Not a lot of people know this fact, but the food we eat can greatly influence our moods and mental health. A study found that there are plausible mechanisms and conditions upon which people who constantly consume processed carbohydrates can increase their risk for depression and anxiety. One example of that mechanism is the fast and repeated increases and decreases in blood sugar.
If we struggle with mental health issues, then we cannot divorce our eating habits from our road to recovery. It will be difficult, but if our goal is to be healthy, then it is ultimately worth it.
If you or someone you love are struggling with your mental health, it’s important to mind their physical needs. We need to encourage them to seek professional help, help them apply for social security disability claims, and assist them in creating a lifestyle that will pave the way for their recovery, instead of aggravating their condition.
People who struggle with mental health issues would benefit greatly from eating healthily. Here are some essential healthy eating pointers and ideas for people who struggle with their mental health:
Prioritize a healthy gut
There’s a reason why “you are what you eat” is such a famous adage. Studies show that there is a strong and intrinsic link between our brain and intestines since they are connected through the vagus nerve. These two parts of our bodies can send messages to each other through this nerve. The gut can influence our brain’s emotional behavior, while our brain has the power to change the type of bacteria that lives in our guts.
What to eat: For a healthy gut, make sure to incorporate the following prebiotic foods into your diet:
- Whole grains
Be more mindful when you’re feeling depressed or stressed
Studies show that depressed or stressed people tend to eat too little or too much, it’s when our emotional state is under duress that we are most vulnerable to drastic weight gain or weight loss. This is why we cannot separate our mental health and our eating habits.
For example, when we’re stressed and have so much work to do, we tend to alternate coffee for a real breakfast, which cannot be healthy for our bodies. Another example is when we find comfort through food, especially during emotionally difficult days. It’s these moments when we need to be more mindful about what we consume.
What to eat: We need to stock up on the following food for particularly challenging days:
- Plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially dark green leafy veggies for protecting your brain
- Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon
- Seeds, nuts, and legumes like lentils and beans are also known for being brain foods
Instead of reaching for less healthy alternatives like chips and fried foods, opt for the foods above. Many of them can be cooked in a way that’s still tasty, so you don’t have to compromise your health just to enjoy your snack.
Feed your brain
Speaking of brain foods, we also need to consume foods that are nutritious foods that can help build new cells, tissues, and proteins. Our nervous system depends on nutrition, so we need to ensure that our diet is always well-rounded and packed with proteins and minerals. We need to let go of the lie that we only need to consume salad for the rest of our lives to eat healthily. A truly healthy diet consists of all kinds of foods. To enhance our mental functioning, we need to have a wide array of options in our daily meals, and not just the same meals every day.
What to eat: Here are the top three types of foods we need to incorporate into our diet to gain all the nutrients our brains and bodies need:
- Lean proteins like chicken, fish, soybeans, meat, eggs, nuts, and seeds are good for providing us with the energy we need to do our tasks for the day.
- Complex carbohydrates like starchy vegetables, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and brown rice are good for keeping us full and satisfied, so we don’t feel the need to reach for candy and sugar.
- Fatty acids like flax seeds and fish are needed to help our brain and nervous system function properly.
We cannot separate eating healthily from our road to recovery. Make sure to incorporate these foods into your daily routine so that you can create a lifestyle that facilitates your healing and doesn’t aggravate your symptoms. You can do it!