Eating healthy isn’t only good for your physical health, look and skin. It also can help you become more responsive, awake, and focused on things that really matter when eating food for mental health.
But, how are diet and mental health connected? Let’s find out together!
Food that Helps Mental Health and the Food/Brain Connection
The food you eat and the way you feel share a complex relationship. When you feel blue, you are more likely to grab junk food to comfort yourself. Therefore, mental health affects your cravings. But, it acts in the opposite direction, too.
The food you eat has various vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that reach the brain and cause certain chemical reactions which is why it is important to choose foods that help mental health.
The exact chemical reaction in your brain depends on the food and its nutritive value. A particular food, that is sometimes called – brain food, triggers good reactions, and increases the positive response in the brain.
On the other hand, some food for mental health can affect your mental health negatively. Refined sugar makes you feel better instantly, but once the short-term reaction in your brain passes, you’ll feel the negative effects of it.
The other group of foods that isn’t good for your mental health prevents the brain from transforming nutrients into the things that the brain needs. For example, butter isn’t very good brain food. Instead of supporting good memory, focus, and feeling-good hormone release, butter is related to decreased cognitive function.
There is more research to be done on how saturated fats and refined sugars decrease brain functions. Until the results are ready, you should limit the intake of these ingredients.
Eating With Other People
Diet and mental health aren’t only connected throughout the particular food intake. The diet includes all eating habits, including sharing meals with other people and eating preferences.
Sharing meals can be helpful as you use foods for mental health because when you eat in a group, you develop connections with other people and focus on something other than food. Not to mention, the added benefit if you choose foods that help mental health.
Studies have shown how important family meals are for the mental health of adolescents. Those who have frequent dinners with their families reported lower risks of depression, social anxiety, and overall level of dissatisfaction. They are also at a lower risk of substance abuse.
Mealtimes include everything from food preparation, eating, and cleaning afterward. Because you need to eat every day, mealtimes are an important part of your daily routine, and the habits you develop affect your mental health.
Some Foods for Mental Health
Some of the foods commonly used to help support mental health are protein rich foods. Proteins such as salmon, organic chicken, and nuts all contain healthy fats in addition to proteins to help support the amino acids that run the brain.
Foods that help mental health also include fresh whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These contain lots of antioxidants, nutrients such as vitamins and minerals that help support the overall metabolism of the body. A healthy metabolism equals a healthy brain.
Healthy fats such as olive oil, and nuts contain healthy essential fatty acids that are helpful for the brain as well as brain development.
Avoiding processed foods, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors as well as dyes can also be helpful in ensuring that your brain is not exposed to unhealthy foods that can impede neurological function.
Eating Disorders as Part of Complex Food-Mental Health Connection
If you need more reasons to spend time reflecting on your diet and eating habits, let’s discuss eating disorders.
The reasons why eating disorders occur aren’t still clear. But, more and more evidence suggests that the choice of food isn’t the only factor that leads to eating disorders. Choices of food for mental health may not be significant with this particular disorder.
An eating disorder can be connected with an unhealthy approach to food or your body image. Each eating disorder requires a specialized approach and treatment. It affects the overall well-being of the person, not only physical health.
Food for Mental Health Can Make You Feel Great or Bad
Food can make you feel good about yourself, in terms of energy levels, overall feeling and mood boost. Some foods are excellent for concentration, such as fatty fish, green leaf, berries, etc. On the other hand, if you have to take the maximum amount of your brain power, avoid sugary drinks, fast food, alcohol, mercury-rich fish, etc. these are not foods that help mental health.
Are mental health or physical health and body appearance better motivation for you to build healthier eating habits and choose food wisely? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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