Food is fuel for your physical health and mental health. When thinking of things to eat many only think of how it will help their bodies in terms of appearance or physical health. Some don’t necessarily recognize how food can affect their minds and overall mood. Our brain needs the right nutrients to be able to process to the best of its ability and make sure it is as strong as you need it to be. By eating a nutrient dense diet, it can help regulate mood, increase energy, and help provide a clearer mind.
The connection between diet and emotions comes from the relationship between your brain and your gastrointestinal tract. It is said that the gastrointestinal tract is often call the “second brain”. Dopamine and serotonin are two of the most common chemical substances, and neurotransmitters, that are influenced by the bacteria in the GI tract. There are constant substances that are carrying messages from the “gut” to the brain. Having the right amount of nutrients can promote positive chemical and neurotransmitters to travel to the brain and provide you what you need to get through your day.
The main foods that can help your brain stay elevated and not go into moments of slump consist of whole foods, fibers, antioxidants, folate, vitamin D, magnesium, and fermented food. The whole foods that your plate should consist of are fresh fruits and vegetables. These are the natural foods without all the added chemicals and preservatives. Fiber dense foods can help avoid what is often referred to as sugar rushes, which cause changes in mood.
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- Antioxidants can help the inflammation that is oftentimes caused by other unhealthy foods and stress. These foods are berries, leafy greens, and turmeric.
- Omega-3 is used to build the brain and nerve cells, which are essential to learning and memory.
- Folate is a type of B vitamin that helps with dopamine production, and main sources of folate include leafy greens, lentils, and cantaloupes.
- Vitamin D can help with the production of serotonin which will is related to feeling happier, calmer, and more focused. This can be from food or the sun. A little joke going around my college house is “I’m taking a break to go photosynthesize”. These little “sun breaks” helped put us in better moods and draw our focus back to the tasks at hand.
- Magnesium is a vital connection between food and mood. A deficiency in this can cause problems with good bacteria, leading to depression and anxiety-like symptoms. Food that helps this include dark chocolate, cacao nibs, almonds, and cashews.
These little changes to your diet can help you tremendously with your mental health. From a personal experience this last month I took a big step in eating better and it has helped with creating more energy, not feeling so foggy-minded, and helped me just remina in a better mood, overall. Finding healthy foods that you enjoy can help you begin to feel better emotionally, stronger mentally, and give yourself the gift of healthiness. This is just a simple way you can work towards improving your overall mental health.
Written by Jessica Moskal, Content Contributor
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