Health and Fitness

Food and Mental Health: How Are They Related?

Food and Mental Health: How Are They Related

You are what you eat! Your choices of food say a lot not just about your personality but also about your overall health. If you eat mostly junk, then you are probably unhealthy. On the other hand, when you eat clean food, you will feel better! Your food has a direct impact on your mental health. It is related to your mood, and hence, it affects your everyday life!

Sugar is Linked to Depression and Anxiety

Anyone who tries to live a healthy lifestyle knows that sugar is one of the most difficult enemies to beat. From donuts to sodas, almost all of the good things you enjoy are loaded with sugar. However, there is growing evidence supporting that it is detrimental to your overall health. In one study, the researchers concluded that high sugar consumption is linked not just to depression but even schizophrenia. More so, a high-sugar diet is linked to chronic inflammation, which is also directly related to depression.

For many people, their idea of coping with stress often involves indulging in sweets, such as a pint of delicious ice cream. In the short term, this can make you happy. In the long run, however, it has detrimental mental health effects. It suppresses the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis on your brain, which also affects your stress response and makes you more anxious.

The Effect of Serotonin

In understanding the relationship between what you eat and how you feel, it is also important to talk about serotonin. It is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating your appetite and sleep. 95% of the serotonin in your body is produced in your gastrointestinal tract. It is lined with hundreds of neurons affecting your mood.

The function of the neurons in your digestive tract depends on the billions of good bacteria present in your intestinal microbiome. This is another reason why eating healthy food can affect how you feel.

Going Vegan is a Promising Solution

So, if food affects your mental health, what can you do so that you are always in a good mood? The list is endless, but one of the most promising is turning vegan! We might raise some eyebrows here, but let’s explore the facts! You might just be on your way to ordering vegan meal kits in Canada once you learn how a simple change in your eating habits can affect your mental well-being.

Today, the evidence regarding a plant-based diet and better mental health is still inconclusive. Nonetheless, certain studies have already shown favorable outcomes. The health benefits of going vegan include a lower risk of heart disease. You are consuming lesser processed foods to rid your body of the unhealthy stuff. Logically, when you are healthier, you feel better. You have a more positive outlook, which makes you feel better. Not to mention, you are also doing something good for the planet. Meat and dairy account for the largest percentage of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. By going vegan, you are doing something to address this problem!

However, while it is promising, veganism is not the holy grail of feeling better. In fact, there are some studies supporting that meat consumption lessens depression, anxiety, and self-harm behaviors. In the future, we hope to see more conclusive studies that tackle this matter.

What to Eat

Now, you are probably curious about what to eat to feel better. The list is endless, but one that we can recommend is salmon. It is loaded with healthy fats! It contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve your mood and lower your anxiety. It alters your brain chemicals and improves the production of serotonin and dopamine, which are the hormones responsible for making you feel happier.

If you are looking for a delicious treat, grab dark chocolate. It reduces the level of cortisol in the body, which is known as the hormone responsible for stress. Dark chocolate is also loaded with antioxidants that have positive health impacts. The best thing is that even a small portion of dark chocolate is already loaded with benefits!

Color-rich produce, such as green and leafy vegetables are also must-haves in your diet. Kale and spinach are excellent sources of folate, lutein, and Vitamin K, which are all good for your brain.

Oysters are also good! They are most popular as aphrodisiacs, but they can also help your brain function better. It is rich in zinc, which is a mineral known for anxiety relief. It also improves your sleep quality, which is another thing that positively impacts your mood.

Eating yogurt and other foods rich in probiotics will also benefit your mental health. They can keep the bacteria in your gut balanced. As mentioned earlier, this will have a key role in the production of serotonin.

Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. Blueberries should be on the top of your list. They can mitigate depression while also improving your cognitive abilities. It is a good mood food, with some even claiming that it can instantly boost your feeling two hours after its consumption. Bananas are also good. It tops up the serotonin in your body, which are chemicals that alter how the brain works to make you feel good. It is also a healthy alternative if you are craving something sweet.

What to Avoid

As mentioned earlier, sugar is one of the worst enemies! Sodas, canned juices, chocolates, and other sources of sugar can ruin your mood. Do not be tempted by words like sugar-free and less sugar. Do your research and find out if the sugar substitutes used are indeed better.

Generally speaking, you need to avoid fried, processed, and refined foods. If possible, go for whole natural and whole foods. Avoid those laden with preservatives.

Conclusion

In sum, your food consumption affects your mood! It is directly related to your mental well-being! So, now is the time to switch to a healthier diet! By being mindful of what you eat, you will be better both physically and mentally!

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