How does food affect your mental health

How does food affect your mental health

Nutrition doesn’t just play a key role in our physical health, it affects our emotional well-being, too.  We can all agree about the fact that our mind and body are interrelated. Our physical and bodily functions are controlled by our mind which keeps working 24/7 to keep us healthy and enable us to go along with our lives. Therefore, it needs fuel to keep working healthily and happily and that fuel comes from our body i.e. the food we eat.

Good nutrition is crucial for health, particularly in times when your gut & brain might need to fight back. In these  challenging times of corona outbreak, the key to good mental health is in the food you eat.  Cognitive health and positive well-being can help you better cope with the COVID-19 threat and the uncertainty it’s creating. The current social distancing and lockdown measures are likely to provoke the psychological effects of depression, anxiety, emotional fallout in large swaths of the population.  A variety of situational stressors, including job loss, poor health, self-isolation and general anxiety and uncertainty, could negatively impact mental health.

Unhealthy food intake & poor nutrition tend to add fuel to these stressors. There are physiological reasons for turning to food when the world has turned upside down. The body tends to crave high-calorie and high-sugar foods during stressful times, as these foods provide short-term bursts of energy. The emotional distress impacts the quality of our life and can lead us to failures, therefore, it is better to focus on developing healthy lifestyle habits by keeping these things in our mind:

Improved Self-Esteem:

Our physical appearance has a direct impact on our mental health and self-esteem. When we look good, we feel peaceful and more confident. When we start adopting a healthy lifestyle, we feel good as our appearance starts to transform. For instance, when we stop eating oily or highly sweet things, we can get clearer and smoother skins. Likewise, if we are over-weight, we might face embarrassment on a daily basis. Working on your diet that can help you lose weight effectively will surely make you more self-confident and you will feel more motivated and energized.

More Focused Life:

Whenever you feel any sort of physical pain, it makes you lose your focus in your work and life. Physical pain such as backache, stomach aches or headaches is highly distracting. The major reason for these pains that most people complain about is the unhealthy lifestyle and improper food intake. Likewise, we often overlook the fact that we might not be drinking enough water and it is the dehydration that is causing us physical harm. Drinking ample water always helps in keeping our bodily functions healthily intact. Once you start eating healthy, all the physical pain that is holding you back from being focused on in life. If you are physically fit, you can keep up with your personal life and work-life effortlessly. Alongside healthy food intake, physical exercise is vital to keep us focused and energetic in our life. If we will be focused on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, we will have no time to worry about the negative thoughts and will have no room for negative feelings at all.

Enhanced Cognition and Memory:

To have a happy and strong mind we must have an adequate amount of nutrients in our body to keep our mind healthy. We cannot deny the fact that some foods can play a vital role in improving our cognition and memory. The better we eat, the better we think. We can eat specialized diets to improve our cognition. For example, walnuts, that look like brain help in developing new brain cells which are good for our mental health. Likewise, whole grains are rich in tryptophan which in turn helps in producing serotonin; also known as ‘feel-good hormone’ and it helps to elevate our mood and keeps or mind happy and peaceful. A healthy mind is what enables you to make informed decisions in your life.

Boosts up Recovery from Depression:

We all have witnessed how common depression has become around us and people from various age groups have been victimized by it. even if people take medication, they are not having speedy recoveries. Poor diet and an unhealthy lifestyle are some of the major causes of this prevailing issue. People have become more inclined to eat processed food which does not have ample nutrients to nourish their minds or help them recover from emotional or physical distress at a faster pace. Therefore, working on your diet plan coupled with medication from a professional can help recover from depression faster and in a better way.

 

Foods linked to Better Brain Power:

While smart caloric intake is vital to overall health, it’s also important to understand how food choices affect your diet to build mental healthbrain. Here are some of the foods to help feed your brain and improve your mental health and wellness:

1.) Whole Grains:  Whole grains are important sources of B vitamins, nutrients vital for brain health.  Many whole grains like beans, soy, oats and wild rice are naturally rich in an amino acid called tryptophan, which your body needs to produce serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin, the “feel-good hormone,” improves mood and relaxes brain and body, while melatonin helps establish and maintain steady sleep cycles.

2.) Fermented foods: Fermented foods like unsweetened yoghurts, kimchi, kombucha and sauerkraut are deemed to impact the same parts of your brain as some anti-depressants do. Yogurts are excellent sources of probiotics that bolsters the digestive health, and also aid in reducing stress and anxiety.

3) Fish: Oily fish like salmon, trout and prawns contain a special fatty acid known as DHA which is a functional ‘brain food’. It helps with memory, and can boost your mood and reduce anxiety. High in Omega-3 fatty acids, these fatty fishes also gives a boost to your cognitive potential.

4) Fruits & Leafy Greens:  People who eat more raw fruits and vegetables experience less depressive symptoms, a higher positive mood, and greater life satisfaction. With huge chunks of complex carbohydrates, theses natural foods are deemed vital for brain health. Foods  with prebiotics (good bacteria) like leafy greens – kale and spinach, crisp carrots and apples, capsicums and bananas also contribute to reducing levels of anxiety and improve the mental outlook.

5.) Sesame seeds:  As a natural food, sesame seeds helps to lift depression by providing an ample amount of mood boosting nutrients  viz. omega 3 fatty acids and magnesium. Omega 3 & magnesium deficiency has been strongly linked to depressive symptoms. Magnesium is the primary mineral required by the adrenal glands to help the body cope with stress. It is necessary for the absorption of calcium. Increasing your magnesium levels could help with muscle cramps, sleep problems, fatigue and depression.

The connection between our mood and food is strong. The more we adopt healthy eating habits the more we are likely to witness a stronger and happy life. We must pay close attention to keep our mental health intact in order to succeed in our future endeavors. Our mind and body, work in harmony with each other and in order to have a happy and healthy life, we must take care of both!

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