Almost half of Aussie will suffer with mental health issues in their lifetime and 20% experience it every year.  Yet, only about one third will seek treatment. Mental illness can be caused by a lot of different factors: stress, genetics, environmental factors and more.

But, one crucial thing a lot of mental illness sufferers might overlook is their diet and that is something you can control. After all, just like petrol fuels a car, food fuels your body and if you’re not filling it with the right nutrients it could affect a lot of things, including your mental health.

The Thinkergirls chatted with qualified Nutritionist and Health Writer, Michele Chevalley Hedge, on how to improve your mental health through your diet.

1. B12

Lack of B12 may cause anxiety or depression. Often found in meat and fish, vegans and vegetarians may be at risk. This can be improved with B12 supplements but only after blood tests are complete.

2. Low Iron Levels

This is another one many people may be deficient in, especially vegans and vegetarians. Low iron levels lead to exhaustion, apathy and depression. Iron rich foods include: red meat, poultry, seafood, beans, dark green leafy vegetables and dried fruit.

3. Thyroid Function

One out of four women in Australia have a sub clinical thyroid condition making people moody, exhausted and depressed. In this case you’ll need to increase iodine and selenium levels through food or supplement intakes.

4. Gut Bacteria

The gut is where 95% of our serotonin, the happy hormone, is produced. It can get clogged up with hidden sugar which creates a bad gut, leading to not enough serotonin being produced.

5. Gluten

Gluten can be inflammatory which has links to depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Gluten intake giving you brain fog, lacking in concentration or exhaustion? Get yourself tested.