We learn early on that eating well can make us feel and look our best. However, we don’t frequently hear about how crucial eating is to our mental health. A balanced diet can improve our ability to concentrate, think clearly, and feel more awake. Additionally, it can lengthen and sharpen focus.
On the other hand, a diet high in processed foods might cause weariness, poor decision-making, and sluggish reaction times. In actuality, stress and sadness can be made worse by a bad diet. Here are five dietary practices you ought to adopt in its place.
1. Stop eating junk food.
Our reliance on processed meals is one of the biggest issues facing society today. Regular consumers of cookies and chips are more prone to suffer from low productivity and forgetfulness, which are examples of “everyday mental lapses”. As if that weren’t terrible enough, eating junk food has also been linked to higher rates of stress, anxiety, and depressive disorders.
Our brain’s dopamine regions, which are linked to pleasure and reward, are stimulated by many of the processed foods we consume, making them very addictive. In other words, you start to crave junk food more and more as you eat it.
Sugar and refined carbs are frequently abundant in processed foods. These substances can travel throughout your body and brain and are very inflammatory. Anxiety and depression are two mood disorders that may be exacerbated by this.
When under stress or depressed, eating poorly will only make matters worse. But giving up junk food is difficult. Fortunately, you can replace your chips with something that is also easy to make and delicious to eat: fruits. This brings us to the following eating behavior you should adopt.
2. Snack on the rainbow!
Numerous research have been done to prove the advantages of consuming fruits and vegetables. One peer-reviewed study indicated that eating fresh produce can improve mood, energy levels, and sleep quality while reducing stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. This study was published in the journal Nutrients in 2020.
Fruits and vegetables provide fiber, water, and nutrients like vitamins and minerals. The body need these things to support brain function. As an illustration, the vitamin C present in many fruits offers our organs, especially the brain, important protection.
Additionally, regardless of the quantity size or variety of fruit, a study that appeared in the British Journal of Nutrition indicated that eating fruit regularly reduced levels of anxiety and depression. So the next time you’re feeling depressed, try munching on some fruit!
3. Eat more fermented foods.
There is a network of communication in your gut known as the enteric nervous system (ENS). Your digestive system’s two thin layers of the ENS, which spans from the esophagus to the rectum, are lined with more than 100 million nerve cells.
Your stomach and brain are continuously in touch with one another because to the enteric nervous system. According to studies, a disturbed gut-brain axis might have an adverse effect on your mental, emotional, and cognitive health.
A healthy gut microbiota is necessary for the gut-brain link. This means that you must consume a lot of items that support the growth of beneficial gut flora. Eating fermented foods rich in fiber, probiotics, and phytonutrients has been associated with enhanced executive function, memory, and mood.
Try including kimchi or sauerkraut in your diet or try eating up to 30 different types of fresh food each week. As a result, your gut flora will become more diversified, which will enhance digestion, boost your immune system, and eventually improve your mental health.
4. Don’t skip the fish!
Eating fish frequently can improve mental health and lower the risk of dementia, in addition to consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables. It has been demonstrated that the vital omega-3 fatty acids included in fish reduce the risk of depression and ward off age-related mental and cognitive deterioration.
One or two three-ounce portions of fatty fish each week are advised. Fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines are edible. More omega-3 fatty acids in your diet will lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease.
5. Practice mindful eating
Very few people do this, but it’s a terrific method to ensure that you’re eating a well-balanced diet: pay attention to how you feel after a meal. It’s a good idea to take the time to keep a journal of your meals, noting what you eat, when you eat it, and where you eat it.
It might be wiser to stop what you’re doing when the impulse to eat strikes and write down your ideas if you tend to consume junk food whenever you’re under stress. Instead of trying to numb your discomfort with junk food, doing this can help you figure out what’s truly troubling you.
When stress and sadness are severe, they can’t always be controlled by food alone. You should seek professional counseling if you struggle to regulate your eating habits. You don’t have to handle every challenging circumstance by yourself. Just keep in mind that asking for assistance is never a sign of frailty or failure.