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The Link Between Nutrition and Mental Health

We are all aware that eating a nutritious diet keeps us physically fit, but we are not familiar with its favorable effects on our mental health. A well-balanced diet makes us feel refreshed and energized, whereas an unhealthy diet makes us feel heavy. The nutrients we consume from a healthy diet support our cognitive development and promote balanced moods. It removes the clouds of mental fog from our brains and allows the radiant clarity of the sun to work through. However, an unhealthy diet such as processed foods clouds our mental clarity and makes us feel lethargic throughout the day. Let us talk in detail about how nutrition and mental health are related to each other. 

Nutrition and emotion

Processed foods and excessive sugar cause chronic inflammation in the body, which contributes to mood disorders, and when we feel extremely low, we often search for unhealthy food such as chocolate, chips, etc. These foods offer temporary relief, but over time, they worsen the emotional state. Also, when we are busy, we consider a cup of tea or coffee as a complete breakfast or even skip that too; Caffeine gives us a boost in the morning but does not provide sustainable nourishment. Moreover, missing meals slows the metabolism, making it more difficult to manage weight. So, eat foods rich in vitamins and minerals and provide necessary carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc.

The gut and brain connection 

The gut and brain communicate (in two ways) through complex physical and chemical connections. Hence, during times of stress or when thinking about food, it’s common to experience stomach cramps. The gut, which is often referred to as the second brain, does several things, from digesting the food to absorbing the nutrients from the food. Studies find out that stress and anxiety lead to people experiencing constipation, vomiting, bloating, and irritable bowel syndrome. 

And the opposite is also true as per studies; As stress affects our gut health, our gut health influences our emotional well-being. For instance, mood disorders arise when there is an imbalance in the Gut bacteria. The composition of gut microbes impacts the production of neurotransmitters/chemical messengers, which influence our moods. All this makes it extremely essential to nurture your gut with nutritious food. 

Mindful eating

One of the first steps in ensuring you are eating a healthy diet is to focus on how you feel after eating. Nutritionists recommend keeping a food journal because most people eat mindlessly. A food journal will help you understand your eating patterns and what you should and should not eat. If stress makes you eat excess chocolates or chips, write it down in a journal. It will help you stop your cravings for processed foods. 

If it’s challenging for you to regulate your eating habits, don’t be shy to seek professional help. Also, if you struggle to create a diet plan on your own or have some underlying health issues, do a simple Google search to find the best dietitians in India. Dieticians/Nutritionists are knowledgeable professionals who give dietary recommendations to individuals based on their specific needs.

Cognitive diet

We can improve our mental functioning by eating foods that are good for our brains. Here are the three essential components of a balanced diet that you must include to keep your mental health in good condition.

Fatty acids– Fatty acids are essential for our nervous system. They play a vital role in supporting cognitive abilities and emotional well-being. You can find them in nuts, eggs, and flaxseeds.

Complex carbohydrate– Complex carbohydrate provides energy to the brain and satiates hunger better than simple carbohydrates. They are found in brown rice, millet, fruits (apples, berries,) and vegetables (broccoli and sweet potatoes).

Lean proteins– Lean proteins contain amino acids that are the building blocks of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin which directly impact our moods. They are found in fish, chicken, beans, tofu, etc.

Wrapping up

At last, you may not immediately see the results of eating a nutritious diet in your mental health. But after a week or two, you will begin to see how good you feel. Some benefits you will witness after having clean diets are mood stability, clarity of thought, and good energy levels.

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