Have you ever taken a moment to think about how hard your brain works? Your brain functions all the time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for a lifetime. It handles everything from the very basic like breathing and heartbeat to complex functions like thought, movement and senses, even while you sleep. This, in turn, would mean that the brain requires a constant power source and that comes from the foods we consume.
Recently, research on the relationship between nutrition and mental health has been emerging. Put simply, what you consume affects the structure plus the function of your brain and ultimately, your mood. It is also important to note that mood can be influenced by many other factors such as stress, environment, poor sleep, genetics, mental disorders, and poor nutrition. Foods have been shown to improve overall brain health and certain types of mood disorders.
Basically the science of food affects mood which is based on dietary changes that can bring about changes in the brain structure both chemically and physiologically. This can then lead to altered behaviour. A very interesting analogy from health.Havard.edu states that, just like a car, your brain functions best when it gets only premium fuel. Therefore, eating high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins and minerals together with antioxidants provides nourishment for the brain and at the same time protects it from oxidative stress. Sadly, just like a car on lower grade fuel, your brain function can be affected if you consume unhealthy foods. Diets that are high in refined sugars, for example, are harmful to both the brain and the body. In addition these foods also promote unnecessary inflammation and oxidative stress to the body. Many research studies have found that a diet high in refined sugars can cause impaired brain function and symptoms of mood disorders, such as depression.
It is only natural that there are consequences if the brain is deprived of good-quality nutrition. In addition, if free radicals or damaging inflammatory cells are circulating within the brain, this could further contribute to brain tissue injury. Only in recent years, the field of conventional medicine started to acknowledge the connection between foods and mood.
These days the emerging field of nutritional psychiatry is finding more evidence of the consequences and correlations between not only the type of foods, emotions but how a person behaves. The gut plays an important role in a person’s overall heath. Foods you eat affect how you feel
Neurotransmitters like serotonin assist with inhibiting pain, controlling moods, sleep and appetite. Most of our serotonin is actually produced in the gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, the digestive system not only helps with food digestion but acts as a guide to a person’s emotional state. The production of neurotransmitters like serotonin is mainly influenced by the billions of “good” bacteria that make up the intestinal microbiome. These “good” bacteria play a very important role in a person’s health. They not only influence what the gut digests and absorbs but affect the degree of inflammation throughout the body as well as one’s mood and energy level. Besides what was mentioned, they also have the following functions: a strong barrier against toxins and “bad” bacteria
improve how well you absorb nutrients from your food
activate neural pathways that travel directly between the gut and the brain
This notion is now gaining considerable traction among healthcare professionals.
Research shows that people on traditional diets, like the Japanese and Mediterranean diets associated with longevity, are at less risk of depression compared to those on a straight Western diet. According to scientists, these traditional diets normally contain more vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains and fish alongside minimal amounts of lean meat and dairy products. Processed foods and refined sugars, the main contents of Western diets, are avoided. Using Food to Boost Moods
Here are some suggestions for adjusting diet to improve mood. Try as many combinations as possible to fit your lifestyle. After all, regardless of their effects on mood, most of these changes bring about tremendous health benefits as well.
1. Having a well-balanced Breakfast
According to some research, eating breakfast may leads to improved mood which can, in turn, bring related benefits such as better memory, and improved energy throughout the day, and brings a sense of calm. A good breakfast contains fibre, nutrients, lean protein, good fats and some whole-grain carbohydrates. 2. Reduce Caffeine
For sensitive individuals, caffeine may exacerbate depression. If caffeine keeps you awake at night, this would definitely your mood the next day. Those experiencing negative effects should try to limit or avoid caffeine and see if doing so does indeed improve mood.
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D increases the levels of serotonin in the brain but researchers cannot exactly pinpoint the individual differences that determine how much vitamin D is ideal. Studies have shown that people suffering from depression tend to feel better as their vitamin D levels increase.
4. Choosing the right carbohydrates
Serotonin acts as a mood regulator. It is made naturally in the brain from tryptophan with the help of B vitamins. Foods thought to increase serotonin levels in the brain include fish and vitamin D. Smart carbohydrate choices available include whole grains, fruits and vegetables that also contribute important nutrients and fibre.
5. Gradual weight loss through exercise
Research has found a strong link between depression and obesity, lower physical activity levels and higher calorie intake. Depression is commonly linked to less physical activity. Studies have also shown that gradual weight loss can improve mood. With few exceptions, obesity causes depression and vice versa. 6. Omega-3 fatty acids
Studies have noted that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids found in fatty fish, flaxseed, and walnuts can help fight depression. Omega-3s has positive effects on the brain’s neurotransmitter pathways. Plus there are other health benefits to eating fish a few times a week.
7. Selenium-Rich Foods
Many studies have reported an association between low selenium intake and poor moods. Therefore, a moderate amount comes highly […]