What we put into our body can harm or heal us, can help us grow or can stunt us. This is true for both our physical and our mental wellbeing.

“Good nutrition promotes the normal healthy development and functioning of all systems. The brain and central nervous system are no exception.”[1]

As we all should know, we need to eat enough fruits, vegetables, vitamins and minerals to enable our body to work properly. If we are deficient in any of these, it can negatively affect our mind, body and soul. Some studies have shown that through our lifestyle where junk food reigns, there is a direct increase and worsening of mental health conditions such as ADHD and even depression.[2] When our bodies aren’t getting enough of the right chemicals, they will affect the chemicals in our brains, causing imbalances and worsening conditions. Furthermore, the risk of these kinds of illnesses can increase as much as 80% when a junk, fatty diet is compared to a more wholesome, fresh diet.[3] A healthy diet can almost act as a protector for the body against having higher risks for some mental illnesses as well as physical issues.

Whilst having mental health problems can make us less likely to take care of ourselves and eat properly, the links between healthy foods and wellness makes it even more imperative. One must ensure their nutrition needs are met. Poor diet can in fact “exacerbate exhaustion and impact cognition and mood”.[4] Therefore, we must make sure our diet is a recovery process that goes hand in hand with others such as therapy and medication. However, we understand just how difficult it is to maintain a halal and pure diet just for general physical reasons let alone for mental reasons. In fact, there are discussions around a link between the rise of mental illnesses, and saturated fats, sugar and salt increases in our diet. Do you think there is a connection? It’s difficult to figure out what is “healthy” with chemical jargon that covers up exactly what is in our food and drink such as sugar, caffeine, chemicals or animal fats, so our motto is to return to the sunnah and nature’s finest ingredients.

Eating disorders such as anorexia, overeating and bulimia can be extremely detrimental to our physical and mental health, and these can stem from having an unhealthy relationship with food. So what is your relationship with food? Some may use it for comfort, others to punish, some may utilise the social aspect of food, whilst some may “live to eat” – what about you? Is there an ideal universal relationship with food that we should all maintain?


[1] http://www.foodforthebrain.org/media/229766/FHF.pdf

[2] http://www.mentalhealthy.co.uk/news/963-junk-food-and-mental-health.html

[3] http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20150820/food-mental-health

[4] https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/01/18/9-ways-to-take-care-of-yourself-when-you-have-depression

Jamilla Hekmoun

Author Jamilla Hekmoun

Jamilla is a final year undergraduate studying Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies and Vice President of the Islamic Society at the University of Exeter. After being diagnosed with anxiety and depression, she is keen on improving the understanding of mental health conditions within Muslim communities. Follow her on Twitter @JamillaTweets.

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