As Mental Health Awareness Month unfolds, it’s an opportune time to delve into the intricate relationship between nutrition and mental health. The sheer volume of mental health discourse online can be overwhelming, yet the significance of diet often takes a backseat. As a company focused on functional nutrition, however, we recognize that what we consume profoundly impacts both physical health and our mental well-being. 

In this blog piece, we’ll do our best to scratch the surface of interplay between nutrition and mental health. We will also offer examples of scientific evidence and highlight the pivotal role of a few key nutrients that could foster mental wellness in those who seek a change.

The Gut-Brain Axis

At the core of the symbiotic relationship between nutrition and mental health lies the gut-brain axis. There are complex communication channels linking the gastrointestinal tract and the brain. This bidirectional communication system facilitates the transmission of signals that influence mood, cognition, and behavior. All of which underscore the pivotal role of gut health in mental well-being [1]. 

A more appropriate term is actually the gut-microbiome-brain axis, however. The health of your gut cells is important to your mental well-being. But, so is the health and diversity of the non-human microbes residing inside your gut [1]. There is a fast-growing body of research highlighting the impact of gut microbiota composition on mental and emotional outcomes [1].

A diverse and resilient gut ecosystem can be manipulated and nurtured through dietary interventions.

Nutrient Building Blocks for Mental Wellness


Speaking of gut microbes, one way to support a thriving gut community is through the introduction of probiotics. Probiotics, beneficial bacteria that can inhabit the gut, exert profound influences on digestion and absorption, immune function, normal inflammatory balance and neurotransmitter synthesis. It is through these avenues that they modulate mood and behavior via the gut-brain axis. 

Emerging research highlights the potential of probiotics in alleviating specific challenges associated with mental wellness [1,2]. Incorporating probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi into one’s diet can encourage a harmonious gut environment. Foods like these nurture mental well-being from within.

If you’re not one for fermented foods (or even if you are) adding a probiotic supplement may be of benefit. Probiotic supplements, such as Metabolic Maintenance’s shelf-stable supplement, BioMaintenance, are typically more potent than food. Probiotic supplements have been designed to deliver very specific, beneficial species [2]. For example, “psychobiotics” are species of probiotics that have been classified to support brain health [2]. Fermented foods may contain probiotics, but it may be difficult to identify which ones, especially with home fermentation.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, encompassing eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), stand as essential components of brain cell membranes. Omega-3s are crucial for neurotransmitter regulation and the modulation of inflammatory responses. They play fundamental roles in the development, functioning, and aging of the brain [3]. 

Extensive research underscores the efficacy of omega-3 supplementation in ameliorating mental and emotional issues [3]. Beyond supplementation, incorporating omega-3-rich foods such as fatty fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts into one’s diet can confer mental health benefits, nourishing the brain and promoting emotional resilience.

B Vitamins

The B vitamins, including folate (B9), vitamin B6, and vitamin B12, orchestrate a symphony of biochemical processes essential for mental well-being. Folate, a key player in methylation reactions, holds particular significance in neurotransmitter synthesis and DNA regulation [4,5]. 

One particular problem with dietary folate is that most comes from fortified foods in the form of synthetic folic acid. About half the population cannot process folic acid efficiently, leaving circulating levels of active folate seemingly depleted [4]. 

When levels of B vitamins are imbalanced, noticeable consequences can occur in the body. Depleted B vitamins have been implicated in mood issues, cognitive decline, and neurodegeneration [4-6]. Along with B vitamin-rich foods, like meat and dark, leafy greens, a B-complex supplement containing methylfolate, the activated form of folate, can provide essential B vitamins for brain health [5].


Magnesium, a multifaceted mineral, serves as a cofactor in over 300 enzymatic reactions within the body, including neurotransmitter regulation, stress response modulation, and mitochondrial function (cellular energy synthesis) [7]. 

Research suggests that magnesium insufficiency may predispose individuals to mood imbalance issues [7]. Incorporating magnesium-rich foods such as nuts, seeds, and whole grains into one’s diet can contribute to mental well-being. As magnesium also plays a role in muscle function and relaxation, a magnesium supplement before bed may encourage both calmness in the body and emotional stability.


Antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, along with an array of phytochemicals like flavonoids and polyphenols (such as resveratrol), serve as frontline defenders against oxidative stress and inflammation (key players in the decline of mental health) [8]. 

By scavenging free radicals and mitigating cellular damage, antioxidants protect neuronal integrity and support cognitive function [8]. Integrating antioxidant-rich foods such as berries, citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, and vibrant vegetables into one’s diet can confer neuroprotective effects, bolstering mental resilience and vitality. Alternatively, you can add a potent antioxidant support supplement to your regimen, such as Deluxe Scavengers which includes vitamin antioxidants combined with plant phytochemicals, to target sources of oxidative stress throughout the body and brain.

The Power of a Balanced Diet

While individual nutrients wield considerable influence over mental health outcomes, the synergy of a well-rounded, nutrient-dense diet cannot be overstated. Embracing a dietary pattern characterized by an abundance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats provides a diverse array of nutrients essential for optimal brain function and emotional resilience. 

Moreover, minimizing the consumption of processed foods, sugary snacks, and refined carbohydrates can stabilize mood and energy levels, promoting sustained mental vitality.

Navigating Dietary Patterns: A Journey of Cultural Sensitivity

We would be remiss not to recognize the diverse cultural contexts within which individuals navigate their dietary choices. Availability of culturally significant foods is paramount in promoting inclusive and effective mental health interventions [9]. It’s easy to suggest organic salads, and local fruits and vegetables as healthy choices, but physicians must be cognizant of cultural ties to mental well-being regarding food. 

Culturally tailored dietary recommendations that honor individuals’ traditions, preferences, and beliefs can enhance engagement and adherence to dietary interventions aimed at enhancing mental well-being [9]. Embracing a multicultural perspective fosters inclusivity and empowers individuals to harness the potential of nutrition in nurturing their mental health journey [9].

Functional Nutrition and Lifestyle for Mental Wellness

Nutrient-rich foods are not just healthy for our bodies. Good nutrition can help us cultivate resilience, foster emotional vitality, and support a journey towards mental well-being. While supplements are never a replacement for a well-balanced diet, they can help us fill in the gaps where our diets fall short and boost biological processes that may be depleted.

We advocate for a paradigm shift that elevates nutrition to the forefront of mental health discourse. During Mental Health Awareness Month and beyond, let us embrace a comprehensive approach to mental wellness that encompasses lifestyle factors, with an emphasis on functional nutrition.

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