Nutrition for your mental health
It is well recognized that diet is important for maintaining physical health. However, research also demonstrates that nutrition has a direct impact on both our mental and emotional health.
Food and mood: the science
The intimate connection between your brain and gastrointestinal tract, frequently referred to as the “second brain,” is what causes the connection between diet and emotions.
This is how it goes: Millions of bacteria reside in your GI tract, which affects the creation of the chemicals that constantly send signals from the gut to the brain. Dopamine and serotonin are two instances of this.
Consuming foods that are nutrient-dense encourages the development of “good” bacteria, which in turn benefits the production of these compounds. Your brain hears these encouraging messages loud and clear when production is at its peak, and your mood may change as a result. On the other side, if production is off, your mood could suffer as well.
You’re putting yourself in a position to experience fewer mood swings and better concentration when you maintain a diet high in nutrients. Studies have even shown that clean diets, which mostly consist of whole, unprocessed foods, can reduce symptoms of anxiety and sadness. In contrast, a poor diet has been connected to a higher risk of dementia or stroke.
Foods that promote good health
What should you thus put in your cart and eat? Here is a quick guide on what to look for when you visit the grocery shop the following time.
- Vitamin D: Serotonin production is aided by vitamin D, which we typically obtain from sun exposure. Jacobs notes that another excellent source is mushrooms. Your physician may also advise taking a supplement if you are vitamin D deficient. Members of Aetna may be eligible for savings on supplements; information are available in your plan’s features.
- Folate: Unlike sweets, which cause dopamine levels to spike, this particular B vitamin aids in dopamine synthesis. You can find it in cantaloupes, legumes, and leafy greens.
- Magnesium: This necessary mineral aids in maintaining a regular heartbeat as well as neuron and muscle function. But it’s also crucial to the relationship between food and mood. A mineral shortage can harm your gut flora and result in feelings of despair and anxiety. Stock up on organic foods like bananas, beans, spinach, dark leafy greens, cashews, almonds, and cacao nibs.
- Fiber: is abundant in plant-based foods, which helps your body absorb glucose (food carbohydrates) more gradually. You can prevent sugar crashes and rushes by doing this. Fruits, vegetables, and carbs high in nutrients, such whole grains and legumes, are examples of foods high in fiber.
- Whole foods: According to some research, preservatives, food coloring, and other chemicals may contribute to or exacerbate depression and hyperactivity. Sarah Jacobs, holistic nutritional consultant and co-founder of The Wellness Project, advises people to consume natural food or food that has been little processed and contains a few nutritious ingredients. Consider colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Antioxidants: These anti-inflammatory compounds are particularly abundant in berries, leafy green vegetables, turmeric, and foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and black chia seeds. Consume dark chocolate in moderation as it also contains sugar and antioxidants.
- Fermented foods: Probiotics, which are specific living microorganisms beneficial for your digestive system, are abundant in fermented meals. Sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, and the fermented beverage kombucha are a few examples. If you have high blood pressure, consume these meals in moderation or completely avoid them because they also tend to be high in salt.
Before you begin to experience the mood-enhancing effects of a better diet, it may take days or weeks. Depending on the number of adjustments you make. Long-lasting change doesn’t happen quickly, but the good decisions you make every day add up. You’ll eventually see the advantages in your body and mind.