By Marlena Turner
According to PsychCentral, the link between diet and mental health is growing, and nutrition has substantial physical impacts. But it is the mental impact of nutrition that is gaining traction with additional research and awareness when it comes to how it affects the brain. Our brains require a constant supply of fuel, and the food we eat serves as fuel for our brains. It’s what’s in the foods that we eat that makes all the difference.
How does nutrition help the brain?
Eating quality foods that contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals nourish the brain in a positive way. According to TheBestBrainPossible, nutritional deficiencies were shown to correlate with the incidence of mental health problems. When food interacts with the chemicals in our brains, it keeps us going throughout the day.
According to PsychCentral, foods such as carbohydrates increase serotonin, which is a chemical that has a calming effect on the brain. Protein-rich foods such as white-meat, eggs and beans, can help increase alertness in the brain. Foods that contain healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fats such as fish, nuts and plant oils help reduce rates of depression.
Food and overall health
For years, the correlation between food and the brain was ignored, but today, nutritionist have been able to link the foods we eat to our overall health. According to Health.Harvard.edu, when the brain is deprived of good-quality nutrition, it contributes to brain tissue injury. The continued study of nutritional psychiatry is finding there are many consequences and “correlations between not only what you eat, how you feel, and how you ultimately behave, but also the kinds of bacteria that live in your gut.”
The “good” bacteria in your intestines play an essential role in your overall health. They protect the lining of your intestines and ensure they provide a strong barrier against toxins and “bad” bacteria, and they activate neural pathways that travel directly between the gut and the brain. When you eat high-quality foods, your body and brain functions as a cohesive unit. The Harvard Health article notes that, “Fermented foods such as kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, pickles, or kombucha help introduce probiotics which studies have shown that when people take probiotics (supplements containing the good bacteria), their anxiety levels, perception of stress, and mental outlook improve, compared with people who did not take probiotics.”
It’s also important to avoid high sugar and processed foods. Focusing on a brain-friendly diet as a great way to maintain your health. These foods included fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean protein, limited amounts of sodium, and saturated fat and sugar. When you add these foods to your diet, you’re promoting not only a healthy lifestyle, but you’re fortifying and empowering your brains performance.