It’s no secret that eating well is essential to your physical health. If you want your body to function at its best, you need to fuel it properly. However, did you know that what you eat can also have a massive effect on your mental health? The foods you put in your body can affect your mood, hormone production, and even your outlook on life.
Impact on Chronic Conditions
Many foods on the market today are heavily processed. They’re full of complex carbs, fats, and sugars that the body can’t digest properly. When you eat these foods, they tend to cause inflammation in your digestive tract due to not being correctly broken down. In turn, this inflammation exacerbates chronic conditions like acid reflux, irritable bowel, or Crohn’s disease. While these foods may taste good and cook quickly, they can make preexisting conditions worse and irritate your digestive system.
Additionally, many highly processed foods cause sugar imbalances in your bloodstream. Whether or not you have a condition such as diabetes, a sugar imbalance can severely affect your mood. Unfortunately, many processed sugars give a quick energy burst and then cause a hard crash that is hard on your body. If your sugar crashes, you could be facing a headache, mood swings, and decreased energy levels for the rest of the day. Including foods such as green superfood powder in your diet can reduce gut inflammation and prevent worsening chronic conditions.
Increased Risk of Mental Illness
In addition to higher inflammation, a poor diet can also increase your risk for mental illness. In your gastrointestinal tract, millions of bacteria help break down your food and absorb the nutrients into your bloodstream. These same bacteria are also involved in the production of the neurotransmitters in your brain, such as serotonin and dopamine. When your GI tract is inflamed from poor nutrition, your body won’t be able to produce new neurotransmitters, which can lead to chronic stress, anxiety, and depression.
On the other hand, a diet high in whole foods, such as grains, healthy fats, and proteins will encourage the production of these vital neurotransmitters. When your body continues to create molecules such as serotonin and dopamine, you’ll feel happier and more relaxed. Your brain won’t be starving for the peace it needs, rather it’ll be getting it partially through your diet. While there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to ice cream when you’re sad, make sure you also care for your nutrition.
Prevention of Eating Disorders
Finally, simply eating enough can improve your mental health. In the United States alone, almost 30 million people will struggle with an eating disorder during their lifetime. Unfortunately, modern society has pushed many people to believe that they are only acceptable at a certain size, which leads to harmful eating patterns. While these disorders often require professional treatment, studies have shown that not eating properly often leaves people unable to think about anything other than food.
If you’re at risk for an eating disorder due to family history or current mental illness, one way to prevent it is by nourishing your body enough. By putting healthy and delicious food in your body, you can avoid falling prey to detrimental eating habits. Many processed foods become addicting due to their high sugar content, which can quickly spiral you into poor health. By keeping a varied and interesting diet, you can minimize your risk for these eating disorders and maintain a healthy relationship with food.
To sum things up, what you put in your body has an incredible effect on your mental state. Whether you have a preexisting health condition or are struggling with mental illness, putting the effort into good nutrition can help ease your symptoms.