We are all aware of how important it is to take care of our bodies. What most of us don’t realize is that proper nutrition plays a huge role in our mental health as well. The internet has recently been flooded with information about gut health, but less talked about is the relationship between nutrition and mental health.
While it’s important to take care of our bodies through exercise and a healthy lifestyle, it’s also essential to understand how the food we consume impacts our mood and emotional health.
Read on and explore how nutrition impacts our mental health and provide tips on how to incorporate healthy eating habits into your daily routine.
Nutrition and Mental Health: How Are They Connected?
Studies have shown that what we eat can have a direct impact on our mental health. Our brain requires various types of nutrients to function properly that play a critical role in the production of neurotransmitters, which are responsible for regulating mood and emotions. A diet inadequate in certain nutrients like Vitamin D might result in mood disorders, including anxiety and depression, Mark Hyman, MD, said.
Our diet can alter both the structure and function of our brains and have an effect on the generation of neurotransmitters. Inflammation in the brain, which has been connected to a number of mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety, can be brought on by a diet high in processed foods and sugar, Uma Naidoo, a Nutritional Psychiatrist explained..
Nutrients help your brain and nervous system create new proteins, cells, and tissues. For optimal health, your body needs a variety of carbs, proteins, and minerals. Dietitians advocate eating a variety of snacks and meals to get all the nutrients that improve mental performance rather than eating the same thing every single day.
According to Leigh Merotto, a Gut-Health and Fitness Dietician, “getting the right type and amounts of nutrients supports our mental health because it supports brain health, preventing damage to our brain.” Leigh Merotto also mentioned that brain damage can cause memory loss, and slower thinking and processing.
The top 3 foods to include in a balanced diet for the mind are as follows:
Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and beets, as well as whole grains like brown rice and quinoa, are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates. These foods release energy slowly over time, providing a steady stream of fuel for your body, Donna Logan, RD, a Registered Dietitian said. In addition to providing sustained energy, complex carbohydrates can also enhance digestion, maintain a strong immune system, and even assist control of blood sugar levels.
Eggs, fish, pork, poultry, soybeans, almonds, and seeds are some good sources of lean protein. Protein and other necessary nutrients that keep your body functioning properly are abundant in these foods, as reported by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It also gives you energy and necessary nutrients, making you feel satisfied and full which lessens the urge to choose unhealthy snacks throughout the day.
According to Dr. Matthew Muldoon, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, to promote mental alertness, memory, and cognitive function, it's essential to ensure an adequate intake of Omega-3s in one's balanced diet. Almonds, flaxseeds, beef, eggs, and fish are a few excellent sources. These foods are packed with essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that support healthy brain function and neurological health.
Incorporate Nutritious Foods into Your Daily Routine
In order to reap the benefits of a healthy diet, it is important to incorporate healthy eating habits into your daily routine. This can include planning and preparing healthy meals ahead of time, snacking on fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods, and limiting your intake of sugary drinks.
Embarking on a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be hard! Small changes to your dietary habits can have a profound impact on your overall physical and mental health.
Here are some quick and easy tips to help you boost your energy levels, sharpen your focus, and feel your best by choosing better food options:
• Opt for heart-healthy fats like avocados, coconut oil, and olive oil as they can help improve brain function and keep you feeling satisfied and full.
• Stay away from potato chips and other processed foods as they may affect your energy levels and concentration.
• Avoid sweets like soda and candy. While they could give you a temporary energy boost, they can also lead to blood sugar fluctuations, which can make you feel tired and exhausted.
• Reach for energy-boosting snacks like almonds, strawberries, hard-boiled eggs, and sweet potatoes. These foods will give you the sustained energy you need to power through your day.
It's time to make a firm commitment to nourishing our bodies and living our best lives! Even minor changes can lead to significant improvements, and your body will undoubtedly express gratitude for it. So, let's take the initiative to fuel ourselves with wholesome food and experience the joy of a healthier and happier life.
Let's commit to nourishing our bodies, living our best lives, and creating a brighter future. Remember, every small change we make today can lead to significant results tomorrow.
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