Diet plays a significant role in influencing how we feel. Depending on how you eat, you can positively or negatively impact your mental health. A study by the Harvard Medical School confirmed that a nutritious meal is both good for the body and the brain. Today, some psychiatrists believe that diet is a potentially powerful intervention for mental health and psychiatric disorders. Experts believe that a healthy diet protects the body from illnesses, while poor dieting increases depression and anxiety in people.
Research conducted by the American Psychological Association supports the notion that what we eat directly impacts our mental health and well-being.When you eat a nutritious and balanced diet, rich in vitamins and nutrients, the chances are that you will feel better than when your meal is not healthy. Researchers from the University of Leeds found that those who ate fruits and vegetables showed higher well-being levels than those who did not. Another study published on Science daily recorded reduced depression in participants who took a Mediterranean-style diet consisting of grains, cereals, fish, unsaturated fats, vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, legumes, and fish oil.
While stressing the need to culture proper eating habits in children and young adults, experts have warned against unhealthy processed foods with high levels of refined carbohydrates and saturated fats. Such, they argue, are linked to poor mental health in adolescents and children.
One report by the World Health Organization suggests that inadequate diet is one of the reasons there is high mortality among people with severe mental health problems.Poor eating habits are a risk factor for conditions such as obesity. Obesity, on the other hand, can lead to increased chances of mental issues such as depression. Although the relationship between obesity and mental health is complicated, one study found an increased risk of developing depression over time among people who are obese. Also, those who have depression have an increased risk of becoming obese.
Food and Mood
There exists a close relationship between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract, and it is the same "second brain' that brings the link between emotions and diet. Scientifically, the gastrointestinal tract plays host to many bacteria that produce chemical substances and neurotransmitters such as serotonin that act as messengers between the gut and the brain. When you eat healthy and nutritional foods, 'good' bacteria develop, triggering a positive effect on neurotransmitters' production. On the other hand, unhealthy foods (junk, processed) can potentially cause inflammation, hampering neurotransmitters' production. An efficient process of neurotransmitter production positively affects the brain as positive messages are sent. Anything that negatively affects the process of neurotransmitter production sends not-so-good signals to the brain—thereby affecting one's mood.
An excellent example of how this works is the effect of sugar. Foods that are too sugary are unhealthy and unpopular among dieticians. Sugar causes inflammation and promotes the growth of 'bad' bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. The harmful bacteria will negatively influence the production of neurotransmitters. The results create a negative influence on the brain, triggering negative emotions. Even so, sugar may sometimes cause an immediate, brief spike in the production of "feel-good" neurotransmitters, which, according to experts, is followed by a crash that alters an individual's mood.
Those who are consistent with eating healthy foods have little to no mood fluctuations and look happier and full of life. Such people have a lower risk of developing stress, depression, or anxiety; hence, they have improved ability to focus on more important things in life. Some researchers like Tina Ljungberg, Emma Bondza, Connie Lethin have found that when a person with depression and anxiety sticks to healthy foods, the chances are that the symptoms are eased.
The concept of food/nutritional psychiatry reinforces the idea that the food we consume directly impacts our emotional health. Given the undeniable connection between the gut and the brain, expert psychiatrists have made dietary recommendations to complement therapeutic interventions to boost individuals' moods and help them beat anxiety.
It is, therefore, important the patients are alerted of the realistic possibilities with nutritional psychiatry. Although the intervention is not prescriptive, medical practitioners are expected to provide clear guidelines to patients.
In support of the concept of nutritional psychiatry, studies such as one published on the European Neuropsychopharmacology have been initiated to find evidence. One survey by Supporting the Modification of Lifestyle in the Lowered Emotional States (SMILES) found evidence showing that food can improve mood. Another study found that the risk of depressive outcomes decreases with the increase in healthy dietary indices. The study also concluded that avoiding foods that cause inflammation can protect against depression. Mental health may be caused by complex factors. Even so, there is evidence by the Harvard Medical School showing a strong link between poor eating habits and exacerbation of mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, and other neuropsychiatric conditions.
Foods That Boost Mental Health
To ensure good eating habits, you need to adopt good shopping habits as well. What does this mean? When you visit a grocery store, concentrate on organic and whole foods that are unprocessed and contain natural sugars. Here are some foods to include in your cart the next time you go out shopping:
According to food experts, some foods with additives, coloring, and preservatives may result in hyperactivity and depression or worsen existing conditions. It is, therefore, advisable to choose real food that is minimally processed. Taking advantage of seasonal produce is the right way of ensuring you eat a whole, nutritious, and healthy diet.
Foods rich in fiber are good for digestion and are a source of glucose and natural sugars. Fibrous food promotes slow digestion and absorption of raw sugar into the body. As a result, the chances of craving for and engaging in sugar rushes are minimal. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans are some examples of foods rich in fiber.
Antioxidants in the body perform a function of reducing inflammation. Some natural sources of antioxidants include leafy green veggies, berries, salmon, and black chia seeds. Turmeric and foods with Omega-3 fatty acids are also recommended to boost antioxidants in the body. Some foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids include flaxseed, fish, soybean, fish oil and canola oils. The DYLN Bottle has been designed to create alkaline antioxidant water to help individuals fight fatigue and detoxify their bodies.
Dopamine is a 'feel-good' neurotransmitter. When you take Folate, a type of B vitamin, it will boost dopamine production, resulting in positive vibes sent to the brain for improved moods. Folate can be found in lentils, cantaloupes, and leafy green vegetables.
Serotonin is one of the chemical substances that influence the sending of positive messages to the brain. Vitamin D stimulates the production of hormones which help with the production of serotonin. Exposure to sunlight and consumption of mushrooms provide vitamin D to the body.
Our body needs magnesium for the effective functioning of muscles and our hearts health. It also has a food-mood connection. The bacteria in the gut depend on such minerals to produce neurotransmitters. Mineral deficiency affects the bacteria in the gut resulting in depression and anxiety-like symptoms. Boost your body's magnesium levels through foods like cashews, almonds, bananas, beans, spinach and dark leafy greens. With every sip of the DYLN Bottle's alkaline water, you get magnesium to boost the functioning of your muscles.
Fermented foods contain probiotics suitable for gut health, mainly because they help restore friendly bacteria in the digestive tract. Some of such foods include tempeh, sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, and the now famous drink kombucha. Fermented foods are also beneficial in boosting immunity.
Mental health has become the centre of debate in recent times. Most reports indicate that the number of people struggling with stress and anxiety has almost doubled in the past two years.
It is undeniable that our eating habits directly affect our emotional health. Therefore, we must ensure that we eat healthy foods for both physical and mental health. You can live a fulfilling life by only making it a routine to have fruits and vegetables every day and make whole foods part of your diet. If you are not sure about which foods you should take, it is essential to consult your physician for advice. It is advisable for those who have pre-existing conditions such as ulcers or obesity to stick to doctors' dietary recommendations for the best health outcomes.