Our generation puts immense pressure on maintaining an outward appearance. Every other person is hopping on treadmills and lifting dumbbells to get a flat stomach and big biceps. But, if you ask me which part of my body should get the most attention, love and care, I’d say – my brain.
I believe it is universally known that our brain is responsible for every single body mechanism. Not just conscious but also ones that are beyond our control like blood circulation, emotions, hormone levels etc. It is an indispensable part of your body. Any alteration in its chemistry and you end up in a psychiatrist’s clinic.
Mental health issues are one of the most common health issues in America. Now, you may think these issues are beyond your control. Since it’s your brain and its chemicals and some scientific process that you can’t just tweak to improve your health.
There are a number of factors like medications, environmental factors, the company you keep, etc. that can help you achieve mental stability. But, let me elaborate on the lesser known controlling factor- the connection between mental health and food. Food can affect your brain functions and mood. Let’s take a deeper look into this connection.
Nutritional psychiatry has evolved in healthcare to find connections between mental health and a healthy diet. Several pieces of research and studies have concluded that food, specifically healthy food can influence your mood and lower risk of mental health problems like anxiety and depression.
Here are some studies that establish a crucial role of diet for a healthy mental state.
Food and Mood
You may have heard the word ‘hangry’. Now, this isn’t an arbitrary creation. People tend to easily get angry when they are hungry. Here’s one of the reasons.
Hippocampus is a part of your brain which is responsible for your mood, memory and learning abilities. According to NCBI, your calorie intake, food content and meal intervals can increase neuron production in the hippocampus and thus improve your mood and induce positive behavior.
In fact, some very common kitchen ingredients such as turmeric are found to help improve the mood in older adults. You can visit Mensjournal.com to learn more about the benefits of turmeric.
With this information, it’s time to think carefully about what you eat in your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack time as well.
Food and depression
If you are suffering from depression, increase your zinc intake. Zinc is found to help lower depressive feelings and combat stress. Also, studies have found that depressed patients commonly have low zinc levels. Flavonoids are also often found to have antidepressant abilities. So keep munching on fruits like apples, oranges and avocados.
Depression patients are also found to be lacking in vitamins like folic acid, vitamin B12 and B6. You can counter this lack with leafy food options like spinach and kale and dairy products like yogurt and milk. Besides a healthy diet, make sure to never skip on sleep as it can affect your emotional state.
Food and anxiety
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues in the United States. While it is related to certain situational triggers, anxiety can also be related to the food you eat.
Processed foods and health go opposite ways. It should be avoided even when you are not suffering from mental health issues. According to a study, processed foods can lead to high blood pressure and increase the risk of anxiety. Also, added sugar can negatively affect your brain proteins. However, certain unprocessed food, specifically ones that are fermented, has probiotics that improve gut health and increase serotonin production. As a result, your mood improves and the risk of anxiety decreases. For severe cases of anxiety, an ESA with proper diet and supervision can do wonders.
Food and memory
Mental health issues are often accompanied by a lack of concentration and a low memory span. You can improve these abilities with a diet rich in polyphenols like berries and omega 3 fatty acids found in salmon and walnuts.
- Make fiber a large portion of your diet. You can find it in fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Be generous in your antioxidant intake.
- Choose complex carbohydrates like whole-grain cereals and bread.
- Spend some time under direct sunlight.
- Avoid fast food like burgers and drinks with added sugar.
Food is what fuel’s your existence. Higher the food quality, higher will be your quality of life. Therefore, it is important to fill your plate with nutritions as they not only benefit your body but also your brain.
Combine your prescribed medications with a healthy diet and lifestyle to nourish your hard-working brain. So, be mindful of what you eat because mental health can improve with a healthy diet.