With the abundance of information regarding proper dieting available these days, we’re all pretty much aware that the large soda we’ve just ordered isn’t doing much for our bodies in terms of health benefits. Large amounts of sugars, fatty foods, and high-carb foods can have some serious side effects on our bodies and our minds. A growing body of evidence is beginning to find the link between eating healthy and mental health. And it’s no surprise that the healthier you eat, the more healthy your brain is. Here’s how diet affects your mental health.
It’s everywhere; in our frozen foods, drinks, condiments, fast foods, meats, milk, snacks, canned foods, bread, and more. Just about everything we eat contains sugar in one form or another, and sugar has been shown to have addictive properties. That’s right. Addictive. That’s why you crave soda after a few days of not having it. When your “sweet tooth” is aching, you’re actually just craving something with sugar in it because of the way sugar affects the brain.
Sugar gives us an instant rush or “sugar high” that makes us feel good. Your spirits will be lifted, you’ll feel temporarily satisfied, and you’ll feel happy. These symptoms are all temporary, however, as a sugar crash is inevitable any time you ingest a lot of it. We’ve all felt the lethargy and grumpiness of a sugar crash, and this is due to sugar’s addictive properties. Sugar releases “feel-good” hormones in the brain, making you want more of it once it’s gone. One study has even linked sugar consumption to similar side effects of taking opioids
Imagine being depressed and ingesting large amounts of sugar. It’s more likely that your lows will be much lower once the sugar has made its way through your body. Overall, excess sugar is bad for just about every system in the body!
When you eat well, your body can properly digest your food and keep it moving through your digestive tract. A poor diet that isn’t rich in dietary fiber and other digestion-assisting compounds can leave you blocked up, in pain from acid reflux and indigestion, and even feeling heavy and bloated. These things are linked to mood as well, with the gut-brain connection being an important part of overall mental and physical health.
When you start experiencing a lot of anxiety, do you feel that drop in the pit of your stomach? Have you ever had a “gut-wrenching” experience? Your brain and your body are inexplicably linked. Meaning whatever you put into your stomach can directly affect the way your brain experiences external stimuli. The next time you’re zoning out or stressing about something, remember what you ate throughout the day; it could adversely affect your mood.
Certain Foods Boost Brain Activity
Certain foods have been found to not only be good for the body’s internal systems, but also for boosting brain activity and even memory. It’s no overstatement to say that eating right is just as important to your mental health as treatment and positive life experiences are. Some of these foods include fatty fish, blueberries, turmeric, broccoli, and nuts. Notice that none of these foods are high in sugar or carbs, but rather are nutrient-rich and healthy. Putting the right food into your body can help keep your brain active and healthy throughout your life and well into your senior years.
With boosted brain activity, you’ll be able to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with conditions like depression, anxiety, and more. A healthier brain keeps everything in order. It can mean the difference between navigating a mental health condition with grace and letting it control your mood. Learn more about depression and the effect that it can have on your well-being here.
Keeping a Healthy Body
The brain and the body are linked; everything that occurs within one directly affects the other. When you eat sugar-rich or high-carb foods, it’s not only your waistline that suffers, but also your brain activity, memory, and even your ability to cope with and successfully manage mental health conditions. A high-sugar diet can create hypertension, weight gain, memory loss, addictive behaviors, and much more. The next time you reach for another can of soda, remember just how harmful the sugar you’re ingesting is.
When you maintain a balance between a healthy body and mind, you’re creating a system of efficiency and effectiveness. The body and mind both require nutrition to operate at full capacity. And to live a happier, healthier life, a rich diet is absolutely vital. Don’t risk your mental and physical health for the sake of appeasing a sugar addiction or eating your favorite carbs on a daily basis. These foods provide only temporary fulfillment, whereas a healthy lifestyle can provide permanent and quantifiable happiness, comfort, and health.