The first thing many people consider when making a new commitment to health and wellness is changes to their diet. Everybody knows that the food we eat has a huge impact on our health. Whether you want to shed a few pounds, bulk up, or just maintain a healthy weight, the general rule is fewer carbs, adequate protein, no refined sugars, and of course don’t forget your fruits and veggies!
No matter what specific foods you decide to eat or not, just remember that diet and health go hand-in-hand. Per the 2021 Global Nutrition Report, between 20% and 25% of all deaths in adults have been associated with imbalanced diets. When we think about diet and nutrition, we usually only associate it with our weight, allergies/intolerances, and cardiovascular health.
Furthermore, experts push for improvement in diet on a global scale as the primary way to drastically reduce premature deaths. What we eat has such a massive impact on our health and wellness, and we would be naïve to assume we knew the full reach diet has on our bodies.
For example, what about how our food choices affect the human body’s most complex and energy-demanding organ? We’re talking about the brain!
While only making up about 2% of our whole body weight, the brain uses up about 20% of everything we eat. That’s a pretty big chunk! What we eat definitely affects our brain, so making good food choices is paramount. Nutritionists generally recommend a Mediterranean diet consisting of fruits and vegetables, fatty fish, leafy greens, legumes and nuts, and plenty of whole grains. Talk to your caregiver about what will work best for your body and lifestyle.
Incorporating mindful habits into food choices can compound the treatment plans prescribed by doctors. Nutritional psychiatry is a growing subfield that provides a potentially powerful alternative to prescribing medication for treatment of anxiety and depression.
It’s not just about the brain though! More and more evidence suggests that mental health actually starts in the gut. A healthy diet promotes gut bacteria (the good kind). The gut produces 90% of the body’s serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that the brain uses to regulate nerves, mood, and emotions. There’s a scientific reason we all feel hangry sometimes!
At Simply Psych, we always recommend to follow the health and nutrition advice of your doctor. One healthy trick to remember is to prioritize invigorating food over comfort food. Oftentimes, when we are feeling depressed or anxious, one of our first responses is to reach for comfort food to help us feel better.
But in reality, typical comfort foods like fried food, chips, ice cream, etc. are full of all the wrong nutrients that our body is desperately crying out for. This nutrition survey found that junk food actually increases levels of anxiety and depression. So, instead of reaching for pizza and ice cream, try going for some fruits and veggies to help your body regulate your serotonin levels.
To fully integrate mindfulness into our lives, we must take the time to consider how our body is fueled and equipped to maintain and regulate our mood and emotions. Simply Psych is committed to promoting mindfulness so that all people can feel better. Learn more at www.simplypsych.com today!
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