by Lena Hemsworth: You are what you eat, or so the saying goes…
There is nothing very shocking about this fact either. Namely, food does build our bodies, we use it as fuel not only to go on with our day, to think, to act, to move, but also to regenerate. Food is fuel, but food is also raw material, it represents the necessary construction material to make our bodies what they are. However, all this talk about bodies, but rarely is there much talk about the mind.
Namely, our diet can also seriously affect our mental state, our emotions, and feelings, the way we see the world around us. This can incorporate both how our gut affects our minds, the level of vitamins we have, and our general health. But, read on to find out more.
Our immune systems
First things first – our immune systems. While there is a degree of random chance when it comes to the strength of our immune systems – the genetic lottery, if you will. We all know people who seem to never get sick, no matter how they live their lives. However, you still some control over it, through the benefits of sleep, and through your diet.
Now, you might be thinking – how does our diet and our immune systems influence our mental state? Well, think – how do you feel mentally and emotionally when you’re constantly sick? A runny nose, constantly getting the flu, a sore throat, or headaches, these can all significantly reduce the quality of our lives. Building up your immune system is just the thing you need to stay healthy and sane.
So, as many greens and vegetables as possible, lots of vitamins and minerals – a balanced diet with lots of variety will help.
Our brains, growth, and glycogen
There is another aspect that just pushes the narrative of “we are what we eat”. Namely, when we eat real foods, when we consume nutrients we get our protein-building blocks, we get enzymes that make up our brains, our brain tissue and neurotransmitters that actually let our brains and our bodies communicate.
Furthermore, diets that have lots of omega 3s and zinc allow you to boost these connections between our brain cells, they allow for the building and creation of brain proteins.
Then, keep in mind that your brain works on glycogen (or glucose, rather), and needs this as fuel. And you get glycogen through food. We all know that feeling of feeling foggy, of our brains not being able to do any work they are supposed to due to fatigue and feeling hungry. It’s quite normal – it can’t do its work because it has no fuel.
The dreaded food coma is part and parcel of many diets. Having a heavy, delicious meal, and then not being able to think, but just sleep and take a nap is a very common feeling. It’s neither productive, and the subsequent drowsy, groggy feeling after taking a nap doesn’t feel good either.
Now, a food coma is a couple of things at once. First of all, a big meal requires lots of blood to rush to our digestive system, and lots of work on its part to actually help us digest everything. Now, this is especially bad when we have simple carbs or just foods high on the glycaemic index scale. These foods will increase how much sugar we have in our bodies, but it also forces our pancreas to release insulin, after an hour. This, along with tryptophan, a chemical that goes to our brains, leads to the feeling of drowsiness.
If you want to avoid this feeling, we suggest you clean up your diet. Eat far fewer carbs, and try to get multiple meals a day, instead of just one or two really big ones. Try to get complex carbs, like whole-grain pasta, for example. Also, make smart choices. If you don’t have the time to shop and cook, stay away from fast food. Get a professional custom meal plan made for, or try out meal prepping. At the very least, make better choices when you do eat out, getting a salad or fish instead of something filled with bacon and cheese.
One of the last things you would not expect influences your mood is your gut. Sure, we get that you get hangry after missing out on a meal, or that your gut sometimes makes you make bad decisions when it comes to food. However, the actual contents of your gut, the bacteria inside, can actually significantly influence your mental state.
Namely, there are trillions upon trillions of bacteria living within your gut. Of this bacteria, there is some that actually fends of bad germs, that fights bad bacteria and helps minimize inflammation and pain.
The right stuff
We need to point out just how beneficial certain specific vitamins and minerals are. For example, B vitamins are very important for people suffering from brain inflammation. Namely, people with low levels of this vitamin have issues with depression, dementia, and certain inflammation symptoms. Also, it is better for your health that you incorporate organic food in your everyday diet and avoid as much as you can non-organic. Simply because the non-organic products are high in pesticides.
Omega 3s, which we have mentioned before, contains building blocks needed to help your memory, your thinking, and your general mental development. It can also affect your mood.
Zinc, for example, lowers depression, while kefir, kimchee, and yoghurt helps regulating your gut bacteria. They also help with the generation of antioxidants, which can get you some extra blood flow going to your brain.
So, if you are asking whether your diet affects your mental health, you can rest assured that the answer is – yes. However, the way it can do this varies. On one level, you have an indirect approach that just keeps you healthy, thus keeping you in a good or neutral mood. On another level, getting enough food, the right type of food, the right nutrients, vitamins, and minerals might be what you need to boost your brain, to strengthen and enhance it. Couple that with some good old gut bacteria, and you are looking at a healthy and stable mental state.