We all know the saying, ‘you are what you eat’ – and in a physical sense, we see the evidence for it all around us. But what about the impact of food on our mental health and wellbeing? Can what you’re having for dinner really affect your mood and state of mind?
More and more research studies are now finding that making the right nutritional choices isn’t just a smart idea for the sake of our bodies, but also for our brains. Diet can be a powerful and positive change, you can make in your life which has a variety of both immediate and cumulative positives for you. If you eat the right things in the right ways, you can improve your mental health and lower your risk of psychiatric disorder as much as you can some physical diseases.
Changing Your Mental State
It seems that there is an epidemic of depression and anxiety within Western cultures, and a lot of this can be found to have links to the diet full of processed foods that a lot of people in these countries consume. The links between what we eat and our state of mind may run much deeper than previously assumed – it’s even possible that certain food allergies have a role to play in extreme illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Supporting Brain Development
Usually, if we think of food as having a direct impact on our bodies, we’ll think of it as something that factors into what is cancer or other chronic diseases. But when we eat real, wholesome food – whole grains, a rainbow of vegetables and fruits, lean meat and fish – it becomes the building blocks of protein, enzymes and brain tissue which acts as a pathway for information transfer and signals between our brains and our bodies.
Some nutrients have been linked to changes in a protein building block found in our brains which increases connections between cells – so get eating foods which contain omega 3 oils and zinc. Sugar, on the other hand, damages proteins, both in our skin and in our brains and has a very strong negative impact on its operations.
Science is also how focusing on the role of the gut microbiome in maintaining both physical and mental health, and this can be boosted by consuming both pre- and probiotics which enable our natural gut flora to thrive – things like kefir, kombucha, turmeric and types of yogurt can be immensely helpful. These foods decrease inflammation in the body which in turn affects our powers of cognition and also our moods.
Making A Difference
Changing your whole diet can seem enormously daunting, so start with a few, very small and easy changes to get the ball rolling this could be trying to eat a rainbow every day, upping your intake of fresh produce and avoiding processed and packaged foods with high levels of sugar and salt. Small changes lead to big ones so soon you’ll be feeling fine.