While “Good food, good mood” is a commonly used phrase, how often do we ponder over the real meaning behind it? Factors such as stress, improper sleep, nutritional deficiencies, and mood disorders influence our mood. However, it is a lesser-known fact that the impact of nutrition and general well-being on mood depicts a relationship between the food, gut health, and brain.
Additionally, research has shown that a typical inflammatory diet — which comprises sugary drinks, fried food, processed meat, high-fat dairy, and sweets — is associated with an increased risk of depression and poor mental health. While the link between diet, depression, stress, and anxiety focuses on inflammation in the brain, the role of the immune system in the development of importance, and the disturbances in thinking and behaviour are associated with depression and other health issues.
Blood sugar fluctuations and nutritional imbalances cause alterations in mood and emotional well-being. Therefore, it is imperative to understand how unhealthy eating patterns affect our mood and psychological well-being:
Skipping meals: Skipping meals, especially breakfast, is associated with lower blood sugar levels. It results in leaving you feeble and fatigued.
Eliminating an entire food group: Reduction in the variety of foods in the diet is unlikely to provide the essential nutrients the body requires. A decrease in the levels of iron, zinc, magnesium, Vitamin B, Vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids exacerbate mood and decrease energy.
Consumption of excessive refined carbohydrates: Excessive intake of unhealthy, processed carbohydrates like white bread and pastries are likely to fluctuate and toss the blood sugar level rapidly. It can lead to low energy and irritability.
While these are some instances of the effect of unhealthy eating patterns on mood and emotional well-being, it is essential to understand the impact of an excellent nutritional diet on mental health. Here are some healthy changes you can adopt to enhance your eating and support your mental well-being:
Eating at set intervals throughout the day: Decreased blood sugar levels are likely to make you feel exhausted, irked, and depressed. Therefore, eating regularly and opting for foods that release energy steadily will help to keep your sugar levels steady. You can incorporate slow-release energy foods like rice, oats, pasta, whole grain bread, cereals, nuts, seeds, etc. Furthermore, avoid foods that are likely to fluctuate and toss your blood sugar level like sweets, biscuits, sugary drinks, and alcohol.
Drink plenty of fluids: Staying hydrated is extremely important. Dehydration is likely to affect your concentration power or the ability to think clearly. It is advisable to drink between 6–8 glasses of fluid every day, especially water.
Supervising your caffeine intake: Caffeine is a stimulant that spikes your energy. However, caffeine might make you feel anxious, depressed, give you withdrawal symptoms if you stop suddenly, and disrupt your sleep (especially if you consume it before bed). The consumption of items that contain caffeine like tea, coffee, chocolate, cola, and other manufactured energy drinks should be avoided. If possible, opting for decaffeinated versions is preferable as they might help with feeling better quite quickly.
Consuming the right fats: Human brain requires fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 to function well. You can get your good fats from oily fish, poultry, nuts, olive and sunflower oils, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, avocados, milk, yoghurt, cheese, and eggs. Additionally, refrain from consuming items rich in trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils as the unhealthy fat in them will affect your mood or your physical health in the long run.
Following a healthy eating plan will keep you active and help you function properly. While proper nutrition is imperative for emotional well-being, it is not a substitute for appropriate medical care and treatment. Therefore, in case of any concern, consult your medical professional and seek assistance immediately.