Written by Sophia Smith
Traditionally, we haven’t been conditioned to inform ourselves properly about food and nutrition, and we often fail to realize that out diet is potentially the most powerful tool we have, as by shaping up our diets, we can improve our mental health and decrease the risk of psychiatric disorders. Many well-conducted studies have been published all over the world and a very large body of evidence now exists that shows a proper diet is just as important to mental as it is to physical health.
Here are some ways your diet can affect your mental health and wellbeing:
Carbohydrates raise energy levels
As a natural way to lift your spirits, carbohydrates are a great source of energy for your body. While all carbs are turned into sugars and transported around the body, you do need to be careful, as all carbs are not the same. There are two types of carbohydrates – simple, which give us an instant energy boost that expires as quickly as it comes and leaves us feeling grumpy and tired, and complex, which are released into the body slowly and steadily, leaving you with stable and longer periods of higher energy.
Eating simple carbohydrates often makes us feel lightheaded and fatigued, it affects our concentration and it often produces symptoms similar to anxiety or even panic. Thankfully, the key to combat this rollercoaster of emotions is to eat less simple carbs, such as white grains and processed starches, and opt for more complex carbs, such as whole grains. Foods high in complex carbohydrates are usually high in fiber content as well, which is also essential for our digestive system, and therefore our best choice. With carbohydrates, just like with any other healthy diet, the key is truly moderation and balance.
Amino acids boost brain power
Highly essential branched chain amino acids are a group of three amino acids, leucine, isoleucine and valine, all of which are necessary for optimal brain and muscle health. They utilize the body’s own natural energy stores, fuel the muscles and improve mood, while also preventing fatigue, injury and inflammation, which is why many people choose to take them before and after their workout.
Naturally and gradually aiding in the production of our natural ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters, BCAAs act as a calming mechanism that can help prevent insomnia, anxiety, and even depression. If you suffer from depression, a low sex drive, low thyroid function, and even fluctuations in your blood sugar levels BCAAs may be the best addition to your diet, even if you simply want an increase in performance after your workout. Since amino acids stabilize blood sugar naturally, BCAAs can be especially helpful in preventing hunger and poor mood related to low blood sugar.
These amino acids are mostly found in animal products, including chicken, red meat, and especially dairy. If you choose to eat animal products, always opt for grass-fed and organic, as well as fermented dairy, such as yoghurt and kefir instead of milk. Although some plants contain amino acids, they do not contain these specific ones in high enough amounts to gain the aforementioned benefits. However, you can easily find these amino acids in the form of high quality supplements, which may be especially beneficial to vegans, vegetarians, and anyone opting for a plant-based diet.
Micronutrients have a mega impact
It is a well-known fact that micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, are highly beneficial for our physical health, as well as our outwards appearance, but it is vital to remember that micronutrients are also essential for our mental health. Many studies have shown that eating a diet rich in overly processed food and poor in micronutrients leads to higher levels or anxiety and depression, which is why it is crucial to incorporate more of these necessary nutrients into your diet.
Calcium, easily found in kale, kefir and yoghurt, iron found in lentils, as well as magnesium in spinach and almonds are all great sources of micronutrients that are essential to balancing hormones, creating proper brain functions and living a healthier and more fulfilling life. While these are merely examples of the range of micronutrients both your mood and your mind will benefit from, it’s important to remember that variety and consistency are key, as they will help you reach optimal results.
When you start taking good care of yourself is exactly when your spirits lift up and provide you with a natural antidepressant. A proper, nutritious diet is a great way of promoting self-care and self-love, and a highly effective way of treating anxiety, depression and other forms of mental illnesses. When you see yourself as worthy of self-love, and therefore worthy of being fed healthy and nutritious food, you will make a great first step towards good mental health and overall wellbeing.
Sophia Smith is beauty and style blogger, an eco-lifestyle lover, graphic designer and a DIY enthusiast. She is very passionate about natural skincare, minimalist wardrobe, yoga and mindful living. Sophia writes mostly about beauty-related topics in her articles. She has contributed to a number of publications including: Eco Warrior Princess, Viva Glam Magazine, How to Simplify and Carousel.
This article was submitted exclusively to CrystalWind.ca by Sophia Smith
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