The foods you eat largely influence your physical, mental, and emotional health. Many people do not attach much importance to the foods they eat in relation to their mental status, but the brain, just like the rest of the body, is influenced by the nutrients it gets. Most people don’t recognize that the recent trends in mental health have a lot to do with diet and nutrition.
Diet can have both short and long-term effects, influencing the development, control, and prevention of some mental health problems. Among them are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Evidence from various studies shows that approximately two-thirds of people who eat fresh fruits or drink fruit juice on a daily basis, report less mental health problems compared to those who do not. The pattern is also similar for salad and vegetables. Most of the people who reported some mental problems were found to consume fewer healthy foods, like vegetables and fruits, and more starchy and fatty foods, like French fries and chocolate.
What to Eat for Better Mental Health
Wholegrain cereals, fruits, vegetables, and pulses are not only more fulfilling, but they also have fewer sugars and are absorbed more slowly. Pulses include beans, lentils, and peas. Besides, they are more nutritious and more useful to the brain because they contain Vitamin B1 or thiamin, which is closely associated with the control of moods. Folate and zinc are also present in these types of foods, and they have been found to work well in people with depression and low moods.
Food Consumption and Mental Health
Changing lifestyles have influenced people’s patterns of food production and manufacturing, and consumption methods and patterns. There is more tendency to eat processed foods at the expense of fresh vegetables, healthy carbohydrates, and proteins from plants. Intake of sugar, alcohol, fat, and food additives is also on the increase, exposing consumers to factors that increase the damage of brain cells and slowthe replacement of the damaged ones.
In the UK, it is estimated that an individual consumes about 4 kilograms of additives annually. There is also evidence of a serious decline in vegetable consumption in the UK and other parts of the world. Only 13 percent of men and 15 percent of women are consuming at least five servings of vegetables and fruits on a daily basis. Fish consumption has also declined by approximately 59 percent, compared to 60 years ago.
The decreased consumption of essential omega 3 fatty acids impedes the growth of new brain cells and tampers with the memory levels. Omega-3 is also associated with the proper development and functioning of the brain and protects consumers from mental health problems.
What To Avoid for Better Mental Health
Sugary foods, in addition to causing excessive weight gain and causing tooth decay, can have adverse effects on the brain. They are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, causing a feeling of a high surge of energy. As soon as the sugar levels wear off from the system, the mind feels low and tired.
Just a few years ago, the idea of nutritional psychiatry was almost non-existent in the healthcare radar. However, with the increase in the number of mental disorders, there is a need to ascertain how diet affects mental health. A healthy diet protects not only the body but also the mind while an unhealthy one is a risk factor for anxiety and depression.
In essence, good nutrition impacts brain health in three main ways:
1. It supports brain development. The mind is the sum total of what it consumes, literally. If it is fed on junk, it will produce junk in the form of mental disorders. Food that nourishes the brain enables it to become the neurotransmitter that sends signals and information between different parts of the body, just like it was created to be.
2. Good nutrition puts the brain in a growth mode. Certain dietary patterns and nutrients have been found to cause changes in the brain protein, which in turn increases connections between cells in the brain. Lots of fats and starch impede the growth of these cells.
3. It provides the gut with healthy bacteria, which is good for the brain. Thousands of millions of good bacteria are found in the gut, and they are very vital in fighting off bad germs and hence keeping the immune system in good shape. Some of them are essential because they help in the making of brain-powering B vitamins.
For more better moods and feelings, it is advisable to take a diet that contains an adequate amount of essential fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, amino acids, and minerals. Water intake is also encouraged in large amounts every day. Finally, remember that medication works better to restore mental health if it is accompanied by the right foods and fluids.
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