How an food affect your mental health?
We all know we are what we eat; but can this affect your mental wellbeing and if so, what do we need to eat to feel good?
Ideal physical health has always been linked to ideal mental health, simply put if your body is nourished and healthy you’ll feel much better. It’s not just short term mental health that diet affects, there are plenty of studies that suggest that healthy eating and certain foods can slow down the onset of Alzheimer’s, depression and schizophrenia. Two thirds of those who do not suffer from any negative mental health symptoms eat fresh fruit or drink fruit juice every day. Though this link is not 100% proven, it shows it can’t hurt to make sure you’re getting your 5 a day.
Chocolate and sugar send signals and endorphins to the brain making us feel better, but this is a bad thing as it doesn’t last long and leaves us craving more. A sugar high is great at the time but the crash makes you feel even worse, which is no good in the long run. Keeping up your blood sugar with a slow releasing, healthy alternative is much better for your general mood and frame of mind. Doctors suggest a piece of fruit, especially a potassium rich banana, to keep you going throughout the day. Substituting unhealthy snacks such as chocolate and crisps with healthier nuts and dried fruit will release energy slower and stop you craving the sugar high.
As our diet has changed over recent years so have our population’s percentage of people who suffer from mental health problems. Junk food is all too prevalent and has led to a huge rise in the number of those classed as overweight and obese. While this may or may not affect individual’s mental health directly it will definitely have a knock on effect on their overall wellbeing. We all feel better when we shed the pounds too, which can also put us in a better and more confident frame of mind. If you’re feeling a bit sluggish, dropping the junk food is a good way to get your body back in better condition. It can be hard to resist the allure of snacks so not having them in your cupboards is a good idea, there’s no need to throw them all away though, start food recycling and take them to a food bank.Regular meals can also help you stick to a new food plan, and ultimately make you feel better, slow releasing of energy over the day is much better than a binge at night. Skipping breakfast is a bad idea according to most studies, as it can leave you with low blood sugar and it may cause you to binge when you do eat later. When you eat more regularly you’re less likely to make bad food choices such as fast food, as feeling full stops you from craving junk food. Planning your meals beforehand helps too, as you won’t be caught in a pinch and reliant on a quick serving of fast food to get you through the day.
Carbohydrates are blames for many issues in our diets but it’s only refined carbohydrates that you should avoid. White bread and pasta are more likely to be stored as fat by the body but the wholemeal version of these foods contain more complex carbohydrates, which means that your body will be more likely to burn them off. An excess of simple carbohydrates in your diet can leave you feeling bloated, sluggish and putting on weight. Leafy greens are also a good substitute for simple carbohydrates, you can substitute lettuce for wraps or a salad for sandwiches. As well as acting as a substitute these vegetables will have you feeling much better as they give your body all the necessary nutrients for it to work at optimal efficiency.
Changing your diet isn’t a cure all for all mental health issues but feeling better physically can definitely make you feel better mentally. Even if it’s just cutting out chocolate and going for a jog instead of being a couch potato, these changes can have you feeling fitter and more positive.