How does food affect your mental health?
Our mental health is made up of our emotional, physical, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Showing how important it is to take care of our mental health.
Mental health issues are common and shouldn't be a topic that we are afraid to talk about. 1 in 6, or approximately 45.8 million adults, experience symptoms for common mental health issues, in any given week in England. Another stat to show how prevalent mental health issues are is, nearly half of adults in England (24.5 million) think they have had a diagnosable mental health condition at some point in their life.
People can develop mental health issues from many factors, every individual is unique and some factors affect more people than others. Some of the most common factors include: childhood trauma, loneliness, work, diet, and drugs.
For me personally, diet plays a massive part in my mental state. This should be the case for everyone, and there is scientific research to back up this claim!
The science behind your diet and mental state
The science behind a healthy diet and healthy mind, shows the connection between our brain and gastrointestinal (GI) tract, also known as the 'second brain'.
The GI tract contains billions of bacteria that influence the production of chemicals that carry messages from the gut to the brain. Two of the chemicals produced are serotonin and dopamine, chemicals which help promote happiness and pleasure.
Eating a healthy diet creates 'good' bacteria, which then promotes the production of these 'happy' chemicals. When you are producing enough of these chemicals, your brain receives positive messages, leading to an improved mental state. However, if you aren't producing enough of these chemicals due to your diet, then your mood will reflect this, negatively affecting your mental state.
So in short the science is, when you have a healthy diet you produce 'feel-good' chemicals boosting your mental state, but if you have a bad diet then you produce 'bad chemicals' causing a depleted mental state.
How can diet contribute to Your mental health?
Now that you know the science behind how our diets can affect our moods, here are some of the benefits you can expect from having a healthy diet: improved mood, more energy, mental clarity. An inadequate diet has been proven to aggravate stress and depression in individuals, also bad diets have been linked to an increased risk of dementia or stroke.
To gain these benefits try to avoid foods such as fried food, processed food, and sugary foods & drinks. Instead switch to a diet that consists of whole foods, fibre, antioxidants, fruit & veg, folate, vitamin D, and magnesium. All of these help to make up a healthy diet, and you will be producing lots of the 'feel good' chemicals to help contribute to a healthy state of mind if you consume these foods.
Food for thought
Our mental health is complex and although diet is an important part of our mental health there are many other factors that contribute to our mental health. But diet is one of the most important building blocks that help us lead a happy and healthy lifestyle. So if you decide to switch your diet to a healthier and more balanced one, you will see how quickly you can transform and improve your mental state and overall lifestyle.
Remember that you truly are what you eat! Cut out the unhealthy foods and switch to a healthy nutritious diet. Consuming a healthy diet will help you live a healthy life.