What we eat definitely affects our physical health, but it also impacts our mood and mental well-being. Research proves there is a connection between what we eat and how we feel. The right foods can uplift our mood and have a positive impact on our digestive system. While other foods can negatively affect our brain chemistry causing it to release chemicals that alter our mood. It’s important to note that several factors can influence our mood. Stress, lack of sleep and personality disorders all impact our mental health. However, certain foods have been shown to enhance our brain functioning and improve certain mood disorders.
It’s likely no surprise that most mood-lifting foods are plant based. Nuts, seeds, vegetables, berries and oats all help stabilize blood sugar while also providing nutrients and fiber to make you feel full. Raw nuts and seeds actually contain compounds that support brain functioning and lower the risk of depression. Beans and lentils are a rich sources of B vitamins which can help elevate your mood. The best protein based food for mental health is fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and trout. Omega-3’s in fatty fish appear to play a key role in brain development and the ability of brain cells to send signals throughout the body.
Foods to Avoid
We often seek out high carbohydrate comfort foods when we feel down, but these particular foods often send us into a deeper slump. Cookies, crackers, chips and desserts often cause more carb cravings leading to high calorie intake and weight gain. When we understand and experience the food and mental health connection, we’ll be more likely to turn toward nutritious foods when we’re blue. Healthy food contributes to a healthy mind.