Advancements in our understanding of nutrition, and its impact on the body, have paved the way for how we view food. More recently, we have learnt a lot more about the impact of sugars and high GI foods on brain chemistry, and our mental health.
There’s a connection
Studies have shown a connection between unhealthy eating habits, and higher rates of depression and anxiety, as opposed to balanced diets, where subjects experience less risk of mental health issues. Additionally, those suffering from depression and anxiety, who adopted a healthier diet, were more likely to be able to manage their condition.
How it works
Our diet directly impacts our brain functioning. If we consume too much sugar and not enough nutrient-rich food, we can create deficiencies in our bodies. These deficiencies make it difficult for our body to maintain healthy levels of naturally occurring chemicals. If the affected chemicals are responsible for balancing our emotional and psychological condition, they place us at risk of becoming mentally unwell.
Serotonin is one chemical that is responsible for mediating moods. Interestingly, about 95% of our serotonin is produced in our gastrointestinal tract.
Eating for prevention
Not only did studies find a connection between diet and mental health, but they also found that those with healthy eating habits could prevent the development of disorders. More specifically, individuals who adopted a Mediterranean style diet not only displayed decreased risk factors associated with cardiac events, diabetes, and obesity but were also less likely to develop depression or anxiety.
How to benefit
Often when we feel depressed, we engage in comfort eating. This can lead to an increase in sugary and high GI foods, which ultimately make us feel worse. By paying attention to what you’re eating, particularly when you’re feeling emotional, you can break that cycle, and opt for healthier choices.
To really kick start your nutrition plan, try eating ‘clean’ for a week or two, by cutting out processed foods and sugars. Sticking to whole food ingredients can help your body rid itself of harmful toxins, and help it maintain a healthy balance – making you feel physically and mentally happier.