Many people may not know it, but there is a deep connection between what we eat and how we feel. Actually, it’s quite ironic that the words “food” and “mood” rhyme together, and each serving meanings that intertwine with one another.
Along the road, we’ve viewed the body and mind as two different items, which has left a gap in the understanding of nutrition on the brain and nervous system. In a generation where limited dieting and low-fat foods are “shining” medals, evidence shows that there is a dangerous correlation between the lack of eating healthier foods and rising mental health issues.
Mental Health Keeps on Growing!
Mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other related illnesses are becoming tricky. Due to their interactions biologically, psychologically, and socially, mental disorders have become “outsiders” in scientific study. Depression and anxiety in themselves are the most stigmatizing of all disorders, casting a dark shadow of shame among those who struggle with these conditions. Yet, despite this cold reality, these disorders are more common than we think. As predicted by the World Health Organization, depression will be the second leading cause of disability in the world!
Eating Your Vegetables Can Be Huge!
The findings are fascinating, bringing into question the causes of the unknown. Could healthier eating be the best way to solve these problems? But if so, why the crazy increase in the levels of depression and anxiety? Honestly, the results are still unknown. It is likely that outside factors can be at play. However, there seems to be a changing switch when it comes to mental health. Through many studies, there has been a great amount of focus on correcting chemical imbalances in the brain. And yet, we still feel depressed and anxious? Well, new scientific studies are showing that
neurotransmitters (a substance that delivers a message to other parts of the brain) are not only in our heads, but in each system of our bodies. At the smallest level, all parts of our bodies require a balance of nutrients and enzymes to work correctly. The bad news…we aren’t getting enough of those nutrients as we should.
The link between food and mental health is nothing new, and when you think about it, it makes a great deal of sense. History has observed this connection between nutrition and behavior, only to be too often ignored by modern-day research.
Don’t Worry, Broccoli is Your Friend.
Here are five foods that will provide a powerful punch to your mood:
1. Fish – Our brains are made up mostly of fat. Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which has been shown to increase mood and regulate the buildup of essential fatty acids.
2. Whole Grains – Simple carbohydrates creates low mood my spiking levels in blood sugar. Complex carbs such as brown rice and oatmeal help us feel full and fuel the brain.
3. Protein – Protein is the most typical substance in the body, influencing mood by producing a “feel good” substance called serotonin.
4. Green Vegetables – I know, I know…green vegetables suck. However, look at it this
way, Popeye was on a serious binge of green vegetables (specifically spinach), and look at the outcome! Green vegetables such as spinach, kale and broccoli contain minerals that play a role in the immune system and the brain. It can decrease the levels depression, anxiety, and fatigue.
5. Yogurt – That’s right! Who said to increase your mood, you couldn’t have a sweet treat? Yogurt has active cultures called probiotics that contain healthy bacteria, which has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress levels. But keep in mind, too much can lead to an off-balance and cause unhealthy bacteria.
So Add a Salad to the Mix!
Taking a holistic approach to mental health can be beneficial to your overall well-being. Will salad cure depression and anxiety? Probably not. However, adding a healthy diet into your mental health care routine can be helpful. Caring for your body physically is a huge piece of a healthy self-care regimen, and the better your body feels the better you feel! So, next time you’re debating between the donut or the apple go for the apple and pat yourself on the back for caring for your body well.
Written by Emmanuel L. Rock, Intern