The connection between food and mood is as old as the day is long. The brain never takes a break; it’s always ‘on.’ It works 24/7/365 to bring you optimal function by taking care of your breathing, your senses, and your overall health. You may be asleep, but the brain isn’t! This means that it requires a continuous stream of fuel, and what is in the fuel makes all the difference. Keep this in mind when you shop at the grocery department and choose edibles that promote healthy brain function.
Like an expensive car, your brain needs premium fuel for maximum functioning. Good eating habits are linked to improved mental health, whereas unhealthy eating could lead you down the road to mental illnesses. People with low-quality diets are more prone to depression than those who think twice before putting something in their bodies.
How does food affect mood?
The substance that regulates sleep and appetite inhibits pain and mediate moods called serotonin is found mostly in the gut. This makes sense that your digestive system doesn’t just digest and absorb food but also affects your emotions. This function is also influenced by the millions of good bacteria that line the intestines. These bacteria play a pivotal role in your health by activating neural pathways traveling between the gut and the brain.
Studies have shown that diets containing natural and wholesome foods such as fruits and vegetables have a reduced risk of mental illness compared to other diets. Any diet that consists of artificial ingredients in food along with processed sugars can influence the good bacteria that in turn impact your energy level and mood.
Changing eating habits is challenging, but that doesn’t mean totally cutting off take out or eating hordes of fruits and vegetables. With some smart changes, you can counteract the adverse effects of some ingredient that can negatively impact your mood.
Avoid: eliminate sugary drinks and copious amounts of coffee. Sugar can cause damage to tooth enamel while providing absolutely no nutrition. Caffeine can offset panic attacks in people with an anxiety disorder if consumed in excess.
Try to: drink lots of water to prevent dehydration. Hydration has come to be known as the leading cause of fatigue, mood changes, and migraines in addition to other physical symptoms such as dry skin, dizziness, or constipation. Try drinking tea if you have a craving for caffeine since it has lower amounts than coffee and plenty of antioxidants that prevent cell damage and protect body tissues.
Avoid: skipping breakfast. A healthy and natural breakfast is required to fuel your body after having gone through no food and give it a jump start for the day. Skipping meals may lead to exhaustion and ‘brain fog.’
Try to: prepare a healthy breakfast of whole grains and fruits. Make some granola bars in case you’re busy in the mornings to have a proper meal. This way, you’ll not indulge in processed sugary foods or cereals. Yogurt and fruits are also excellent options for a perfect day!
Lunch and dinner
Avoid: fried, high-fat dairy, and sugary foods that have little to no nutritional value. These types of diet cause a dip in moods along with increasing the tendency to gain weight and other conditions like diabetes.
Try to: eat meals that are focused on organic and natural ingredients, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, and unsaturated fats. Look for these ingredients at the grocery department and stay away from pre-prepared meals, and you’re less likely to fall prey to mental health problems.
The best diet for mental health
There’s no specific diet that has been established for optimal mental health, but there are some that hold superiority over others.
The Mediterranean diet
This lifestyle holds the most substantial evidence in support of its ability to diminish the symptoms of depression. It is a diet that involves eating healthy and is recommended by experts for overall health. It includes ingredients that are linked to lowering depression rates, such as:
- Vitamin D
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Methyl folate
The Mediterranean lifestyle requires a diet based on:
- Fruits and veggies
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
- Olive oil
- A moderate amount of dairy and meat
- Beans and pulses
This diet proves revolutionary whether you wish to shed off some extra pounds or simply want to enhance your mood. You can also start paying attention to how certain foods make you feel not only while eating but also on the next day. Stick to foods that keep your mood uplifted continuously and not only while eating. When you go ‘clean,’ there won’t be a return to unhealthy eating habits with artificial ingredients in food because you’ll never want to let go of your elevated mood and enhanced energy.