Diet and Mental Health: Is There a Connection?
It’s the year 2020 and almost everyone is trying to change one aspect in their life. The most common word which you may have heard often is the word – diet. In this fast-phased world that we live in, people are trying to live healthier than what they’ve been into before. More people are now trying two out of the numerous diet methods known nowadays which are keto diet and intermittent fasting. However, before we jump into trying out these diet methods, how do we know if it’s the one that suits you and your lifestyle? And apart from looking healthy, would it also affect your daily mood? Or to put it directly, will it affect your mental health?
According to science, there is a close relationship between our gastrointestinal tract which is called “the second brain” and mental health. This is where the connection between diet and emotions came from. How it works is your GI (Gastrointestinal tract) serves as a home to billions of bacteria that influence the production of neurotransmitters and chemical substances that carry continuous messages from your gut to the brain whenever you eat.
Eating healthy foods on a regular basis would increase the growth of good bacteria, which in turn positively impacts neurotransmitter production. Unlike having a frequent consumption of junk food, it can cause inflammation that will slow down production. Now just think of it this way, when a neurotransmitter is in good shape, your brain receives these positive messages loud and clear and your emotions will reflect it. On the other hand, if the production becomes skewed, so does your mood.
What You Should Eat to Ensure Good and Positive Mental Health
Now let’s talk about some food examples that will brighten and keep your mental health in good condition. First on the list of course are fruits and vegetables. Studies proved that preservatives, food coloring and other additives may affect or worsen depression and hyperactivity. Plant-based foods are also high on fiber which can help your body absorb glucose or food sugars more slowly and help avoid sugar rushes and crashes.
The second one would be whole grain and beans which are rich in fiber. Foods such as these can cut stress-related disorders such as anxiety and depression. According to Dr. Joseph Firth, when you particularly eat meals that are nutrient-dense, meaning they contain vegetables and are high in fiber while eliminating refined sugars and junk food, this will help avoid negative impacts on your mental health.
Third on the list would be foods which are high on antioxidants such as berries, leafy green vegetable, and dark chocolate. We’re happy to tell you that dark chocolates contain antioxidants and sugar so go ahead and indulge yourself in dark chocolate but keep in mind to indulge in moderation.
Last and the simplest is water. At least 8 glasses of water will work wonders for your health since drinking plenty of water helps prevent dehydration, especially since mild dehydration can make you easily irritated.
Why is Diet Important in Maintaining a Healthy Mind?
Of course, the ones stated above are just a few examples of foods that can help you maintain healthy mental health. And what better way to start the first few months of your year than keeping your state of mind not just sane, but also positive.
Take small steps to improve your diet. Keep in mind that change doesn’t usually happen overnight so go easy on yourself. There will be times that it would seem easy, and some days it will be hard and you might not stick to your diet. Just remember that in time, these will become healthy eating habits that will stimulate a healthy state of mind.
Along with it will be the changes in your mindset about how you perceive things. The healthier you eat, the more nutrients are being taken in your body which is essential for all brain functionalities. Always remember that your choice of food has a huge effect to your brain’s health so knowing the best diet will truly impact your mental health. Keeping a healthy diet will help you be more focused on the things you want to achieve, while also staying positive amidst curve balls and challenges that life throws your way.
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