How an Anti-Inflammatory Paleo Diet Can Help with Mental Illness

How an Anti-Inflammatory Paleo Diet Can Help with Mental Illness


Mental illness is highly prevalent in the US. Millions of people are affected every year by some form of mental illness. About 1 in every 5 adults in America develops some type of mental problem every year. That is around 44 million individuals. That also includes 6.9% of people who have recently experienced a depressive episode.


Approximately 18.1% of the adults in America have experienced various anxiety disorders including OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), Posttraumatic stress disorder, and other specific phobias.


Out of the 20.2 million people in America who have had a substance abuse problem, over half of them had a dual diagnosis of mental health illness. If left untreated, persons living with severe mental health illness are more likely to die 25 years earlier on average, than the rest of the population.


Poor Dietary Habits

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Several studies have revealed that individuals with poor dietary habits are more likely to develop depression, anxiety, and other types of mental illnesses as a result of inflammation. Foods that make up a poor diet include fried foods, dairy products with a high-fat content, sweet desserts, refined cereals, chocolates, and processed meats.


Some of the main factors that contribute to depression are added sugar. Over consumption of refined starches and sugars pose a higher likelihood for a person developing depression. This reinforces the connection between depression and poor dietary choices. Inflammation and Mental Illness.


Research suggests that your immune system contributes to your brain health. Activation of various cells in your immune system in response to a chronic inflammation contributes to different types of mental illnesses.


Researchers believe that understanding how inflammation is connected to mental illness will greatly help in improving the treatment.


Anti-inflammatory Diet

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Anti-inflammatories including an anti-inflammatory paleo diet have significantly helped many people suffering from mental illnesses. There is a lot of evidence that shows how being on an anti-inflammatory Paleo helps to manage mental health illnesses. With that in mind, you can refine your implementation of a paleo diet for better mental health.


An anti-inflammatory diet includes:

B Vitamins Deficiencies in vitamin 12, folate and vitamin B6 can cause a rise in homocysteine blood levels associated with causing mental illness. A deficiency in folate accelerates depression by affecting a person’s monoamine metabolism. People with depression have shown to have 25% low levels of folate compared to healthy people.


B vitamins can be found in:

  • Animal foods for vitamin B12
  • Green vegetables
  • Beetroots
  • Liver
  • Broccoli
  • Beef


Omega-3 Fats

Because of the role they play in gene expression, neuronal survival, dopamine and serotonin transmission, neurone growth, membrane fluidity, neurone growth, and transcription, omega-3 fats are important for your brain health and other deficiencies that contribute to the development of mental illnesses.


Studies show that there is a correlation between deficiency in omega-3 in the human body and depression. Clinical trials have revealed taking adequate amounts of omega-3 improves symptoms of ADHD, bipolar disorders, depression, and schizophrenia.


In particular, a 1 g daily intake of omega-3 in the form of DHA and EPA supports a person’s cognitive function.


Some of the recommended sources of omega-3 are:

  • Nuts, especially walnuts
  • Seafood, particularly mackerel and salmon.


Amino Acids

Specific types of amino acids reduce symptoms of mental illness while supporting your mental health. Depression is associated with low levels of dopamine, noradrenaline, GABA, and serotonin neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters require some amino acids such as tryptophan. Tryptophan is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin and has been known to reduce depression and OCD disorder.


The amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine are converted into the transmitters norepinephrine and dopamine to help improve your mental well-being.


Sources of amino acids are as many as they varied and include:

  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Red meat
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Bananas
  • Avocadoes

When ATP is combined with methionine, an amino acid, it produces SAM (S- adenosylmethionine), which helps to alleviate depression symptoms. Glycine, also an amino acid, has proven to reduce schizophrenia symptoms. The amino acid taurine plays an important role in reducing the manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder.


Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a strong contributor to your mental health. Numerous studies have associated low levels of vitamin D with depression and schizophrenia.


Sources of vitamin D include:

  • Sunlight
  • Fatty fish
  • Egg yolks
  • Full-fat dairy
  • Liver

For some people, incorporating vitamin D supplements may be needed in getting enough vitamin D necessary to impact their mental health. Although research is still ongoing, the link between vitamin D and mental health has a lot to do with vitamin D receptors being present in the hypothalamus thus giving it a role in the regulation of the neuroendocrine function.



Zinc plays a very important part in maintaining your brain’s function and structure. A deficiency in zinc is associated with ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder) and clinical depression. Studies prove that zinc supplements greatly reduce symptoms of depression, impaired socialization, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.


The best sources of zinc are:

  • Shrimp
  • Liver
  • Oysters
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Beef


The Importance of Exercise

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Exercising regularly boosts your moods. Studies reveal that exercises reduce depression and anxiety while at the same time improve your cognitive functions.


When it comes to mental health, excising outside in the natural light is highly beneficial than exercising in enclosed spaces. A 15-20-minute walk 5 times a week can improve the mood, self-esteem, overall well-being, and happiness of moderately depressed people.


Mental Rehabs and Paleo Diet

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Mental rehabs help individuals recover from the effects of mental health illnesses. The aim of these treatment facilities is to help a person deal with their mental problems; to get their confidence back as well as live a normal life as is possible.


Some mental rehab centres, especially a high-end rehab, incorporates an anti-inflammatory paleo type diet in their treatment programs.


Who Can Benefit from a Rehab Centre That Has A Paleo Diet Program?

1 in every 100 individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia needs rehabilitation. Typical difficulties associated with schizophrenia and other mental health illnesses include:


  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Behaving in a threatening manner
  • Being abused or exploited by others
  • Problems with planning and organizing your day to day life.
  • Mental illness symptoms like hearing distressing voices that makes it difficult to concentrate or communicate with others.


These difficulties may come about because:


  • The medication you are using isn’t working well for you
  • You are struggling with day to day activities


The stigma associated with mental illness can become a burden to you. You may find it difficult to associate with others in a normal setting, find work, or generally live a normal and healthy life. If a mental illness is left unchecked, it can spiral out of control. That is why it is very important to find a solution that works well for you. A Paleo diet could be the missing link to a successful treatment plan Anti-inflammatory Paleo Diet for Mental Health


With the primary focus of the paleo diet being on nutrient density and lifestyle practices to improve your mental health, it comes as no surprise that a lot of people suffering from mental health illnesses find tremendous improvements in their mood, focus, energy and mental clarity once they incorporate an anti-inflammatory paleo diet plan into their treatment program.


A poor diet can adversely affect your mental wellness and contribute to anxiety and depression. A paleo diet is healthy and has shown to decrease inflammation in your body thus managing and checking mental illness.