What You Eat Affects Your Mental Health

April 3rd, 2017

You must have heard the expression, ‘you are what you eat’ but what exactly do you understand by it? In simple words, food is fuel, and the kinds of foods and beverages you consume on a daily basis determine the types of nutrients you feed your system. The food you eat further determines its impact on your body and mind.

 

Following is a list of food items that play a vital role in physical as well as mental health.

Breakfast

Avoiding meals: Eat breakfast like a king for it is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast is essential to give your body the right kickstart in the morning and improves your metabolism. Avoiding meals lead to fatigue and feelings of ‘brain fog’ that hampers  your overall productivity.

Try to: Include a healthy breakfast into your routine. If you have a tough schedule or you are usually tight on time in the mornings, grab a whole grain cracker, plain or flavored yogurt and a piece of fruit to get you off to a healthy start.

Lunch and dinner

Avoid: I know its hard, but try and avoid food items that are rich in fats and carbs in the morning. This includes high-fat dairy products, fried items, processed and sugary food that have little or no nutritional value. Not only do they contribute to weight gain and conditions like diabetes, but a diet that consists primarily of these kinds of foods significantly increases the risk of depression as well.

Try to: Opt for natural sweeteners. Consume a diet that relies more on fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, white meat and unsaturated fats (like olive oil). People who consume healthy alternatives to fatty foods are less likely to develop depression than those who consume high amounts of lean meats and dairy products.

Drinks

Avoid: Try your best to avoid sugary drinks and excessive amounts of caffeine. Sugary drinks like packed juices and soft drinks contain empty calories and damage precious tooth enamel. Caffeinated drinks should also be avoided in excess, as caffeine has a tendency to trigger panic attacks in people who already have anxiety disorders.

Try to: Increase your liquid intake as much as you can or at least try consuming 8 glasses of water a day, which is approximately 2 liters, to prevent dehydration. It has been observed that even minor dehydration can cause fatigue, difficulty in concentration, and mood swings in addition to physical effects like mouth dryness, decreased or pale urine, dry and patchy skin, headache, dizziness and at times constipation.

Also, limit caffeine if you have an anxiety disorder. If you feel the need for some caffeine, try and switch to decaf green tea extracts. Green tea has lesser amounts of caffeine than regular tea and coffee and has lots of antioxidants found in plants that protect body tissues and prevent cell damage.

What other dietary choices support good mental health?

Several studies about the ‘food-mood connection’  have shown diverse results. Based on these studies, it was observed that certain nutrients in foods might support emotional well-being. These include nutrients such as folic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and vitamin B-12, which are found in foods that are essential for the human body.

The Mediterranean diet is a good diet plan for eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods such as salmon, fruits and vegetables, various kinds of beans, and whole grains. The consumption of this form of diet also limits the intake of high-calorie, low nutrient foods. Also, it has been observed that people who do not have a balanced diet are more likely to report symptoms of stress and depression. However, dietary changes are not recommended as a substitute for professional treatment of depression and other mental health issues like dementia.

Conclusion

Research studies have proven that what you eat affects your body and mood. Cutting down on junk food and adopting healthy diet options help you to uphold a healthier body with appropriate weight, strong muscles and healthier heart that keeps you mentally and physically fit and healthy.

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