Learn about the good and bad food for your mental health

The state of your mental health is more connected to what you eat than you realize, according to experts. Indeed we are what we eat, not just in our bodies but also in our mind. Eating unhealthy foods can harm our health mentally. Of course it goes without saying that unhealthy food harms the body.

Happy people

The close relationship between one's brain and their gastrointestinal tract is often referred to as the "second brain," which explains the connection between diet and emotions that gives a holistic approach for mental health and wellness.

Nutritional psychiatry/neuroscience is an emerging field that focuses on nutrition's role in the relationship between food and mood. Consuming nutritious foods encourages the growth of "good" bacteria, which has a positive impact on neurotransmitter production.

The brain receives these positive messages loud and clear when neurotransmitter production is in good shape, and your emotions reflect it. However, if production goes wrong, so might one's mood. An unhealthy diet promotes the growth of bad bacteria, which reduces the production of happy hormones.

There is mounting evidence that a poor diet contributes to the worsening of mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), diet quality and mental health are linked and play a role in the development of certain mental disorders, such as depression.

  • Red meats
  • High sodium intake
  • Excessive saturated fat
  • Sugar is considered a major cause of inflammation and bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Zinc deficiency can result in depression
  • Low B12 levels and high homocysteine levels are linked to a 5-fold increase in the rate of brain atrophy, increasing risks of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's

Nutrition and hydration are also inextricably linked. The fear of not drinking enough water is known as dehydration anxiety and can result in excessive water consumption (more than required), leading to illness.

Although the causes of depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD), and all other mental illnesses go far beyond poor, food has a connection to mood and mentality, and clean eating is vital to maintain proper brain health. The following food/nutrients may be beneficial to brain health:

  1. Omega 3 fatty acids improve mood as well as memory and cognition.
  2. Probiotics, prebiotics, and lactic acid, packed in Indian diets significantly help maintain brain health.
  3. Whole grains, leafy greens, colourful vegetables, beans and legumes, seafood, and fruits are nutrient-dense foods that improve overall health, including brain health.
  4. Sugar-eliminating diets like the Mediterranean and DASH diet significantly improve symptoms and prevent depression.
  5. The effect of vitamin B12 deficiency on fatigue, poor memory, and depression, as well as of a high fat, low carbohydrate diet (ketogenic diet) can help children with epilepsy.
  6. Sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, pickles, and kombucha are fermented foods that can improve gut health and serotonin levels.

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