People always link food to emotions. On holidays we celebrate by eating rich food and indulging in alcoholic beverages. When we are upset, we turn to comfort foods. There’s food for every occasion and a craving for every emotion, but although we know how our nutrition is affected by our feelings, we rarely ever consider the other side of the coin. We know how our mood dictates what we eat, but how does what we eat affect our emotions?
Here are 5 foods that can affect your mental health:
Caffeine– Caffeine taken in small doses can help keep us alert and functional during our busy days. Studies have also shown that normal doses of caffeine may help with memory retention as well as lessening the symptoms of Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Be weary about how much caffeine you take in during the day, though, because too much caffeine can negatively affect your body and mind.
Sugar– Although a sweet treat at the end of the day may seem like the perfect ending to your meal, the regular intake of sugar can be detrimental to your body as well as your mental health. Sugar intake has been linked to depression because it lowers the activity of the hormone BDNF, which basically serves as miracle-grow for your brain. In turn, sugar can also increase anxiety and is not recommended to those who have learning disabilities as sugar can hurt memory and learning processes.
Raw Veggies and Fruit– We all know that eating our fruit and vegetables is a good thing, but why would the consistency of these foods make a difference. Studies have shown that raw fruit and vegetables contain more nutrients than their cooked and processed counterparts. These nutrients help increase our brain function, lowers feelings of depression, and increases the feeling of overall life satisfaction. The best fruits and vegetables for optimal mental health are: Carrots, bananas, apples, dark leafy greens, grapefruit, lettuce, citrus fruits, fresh berries, cucumber, and kiwifruit.
Protein– Our bodies’ functions increase with not only the intake of carbohydrates but also protein. Lean proteins like turkey and chicken can also positively affect our mental health. The amino acid, tryptophan, a building block of protein, influences mood by producing the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is like a little happy pill that when in good supply leaves you content and with increased cognitive function.
Dairy– Dairy products, because they are more difficult to digest, can cause body and brain inflammation, which in turn can affect mental health. Dairy can increase symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mood or behavioral disorders.
Overall, keeping a good and balanced diet keeps your body and mind in good working order. Check out our balanced meals at www.superfitfoods.co/meal-plans.