You’ve heard the expression: You are what you eat. Well it’s true!
The foods that we eat are broken down and create the biochemistry of our body, including our brain! We’ve known for a long time that what we eat impacts physical illnesses like heart disease and diabetes and now research is starting to pile up demonstrating the connection between food and mental health as well.
The brain is 60% fat and the types of fats that are consumed in the diet determine the types of fat found in the brain cells, influencing the structure and function of these cells. Trans fats, found in deep-fried foods and some processed foods are associated with poorer mental health while omega-3 fats found in fish, flax seeds and walnuts have been shown to improve mental health. Omega-9 fats like olive oil have also been shown to improve mental health when included in the diet. The balance of healthy and unhealthy fats also has a significant impact on the level of inflammation in the body. Research evidence is mounting that mental illness is a process involving high levels of inflammation in the brain and that reducing inflammation has a positive effect on mental well-being.
The amount of sugar in the diet is another factor that can affect mood. When we eat a meal containing high amounts of sugar we get a rapid increase in blood sugar; however, the body compensates by releasing insulin and this is followed by a rapid decrease in blood sugar. Low blood sugar can trigger symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as cravings. Choosing whole grains, including sources of fiber, limiting sweets and foods with added sugar and including healthy fats and proteins all help to keep blood sugar balanced.
Speaking of protein, it plays a vital role in the balance of mental health too – check out the video below to learn more!
The food choices we make every day don’t just influence our physical health, they influence our mental health too. If balancing mood and anxiety is a goal of yours, think about the fuel that you’re putting into your body on a daily basis – it has a powerful effect.
To collaborate in creating a balanced diet specifically tailored to promotes mental well-being, please feel free to send me a question or book an appointment at [email protected]
By. Dr. Monique Aucoin ND – Helix Healthcare Group Naturopathic Doctor