While one might not think it, food has a massive impact on mental health, determining energy levels, and even mood. In today’s hectic world, we can often feel drawn to quick and easy meals, like pesto pasta and a frozen pizza as it’s an all-round winner and there are no complaints. But while these are often the fastest options, they very often leave one depleted and sluggish as they don’t provide much energy.
While everyone knows that a variety of nutritional foods is good for your body, some are unaware of the impact it has on your mental well-being. If we think of ourselves as a machine, it makes sense that the fuel we put into our body will have an impact on our brain as much as the rest.
The micronutrients in food are substances that allow the production of hormones and enzymes that allow for proper growth and development. Professor Julia Rucklidge, of the University of Canterbury, has analysed the effects of micronutrients on mental health. Her studies highlight that micronutrients are able to decrease the levels of ADHD, and can lead to the improvement of bipolar disorder in children.
How are diet and mental health linked?
Certain diets are clinically proven to aid in boosting one’s mental health with a Mediterranean-style diet reducing symptoms of depression. The combination of vegetables, garlic, olive oil, grains, and seafood provides one with not only energy but tastes amazing and has a high nutritional output.
On the other hand, some of our favourite foods have negative effects on the brain owing to releasing mood-altering chemicals or preventing the conversion of foods into brain supplements. These are caffeine, chocolate, and saturated fats which include butter and lard. While these might be everyone’s favourite food, it is probably better to limit them to boost mental health.
Eating with the Family
While you might not think it, carving out time to eat with your family can have psychological and biological benefits. It can provide a sense of rhythm and consistency in today’s hectic world, allowing us to feel connected. Make sure that you don’t eat standing up, as sitting in an upright chair will aid digestion, and the act of talking and listening slows down eating. Try to avoid a TV dinner, so you can talk and listen, which will boost your human instinct for social interaction.
Choose a nutritional meal that is easy to make and doesn’t feel like a chore. If you get your little kids to cook along with you, then they might try foods that they otherwise wouldn’t have eaten, such as courgette.