March 3, 2020
Everyone has to eat, every day. The choices you make are based on availability, time, and perhaps cravings. Increasingly these days, there is less time to eat and you are more likely to indulge in cravings for unhealthy foods, especially when it comes to availability. Maybe you don’t even think much about what you are putting into your body because you’ve got so much else going on. After all, is what you eat really that important?
Eating for your Body
You have had a lot of opportunities to hear about eating a balanced diet. The importance of eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. You need protein, but not too much. You need to have fats in your diet, but only a little, and certain kinds of fats are good, others are not. Junk food is okay in small portions, but you shouldn’t eat it too often. Some of that information may have even flip-flopped during your lifetime as more research is done. The current recommendations are based on the portion size of the various food groups, to make it easier for you to visualize what you are putting into your body each day. These recommendations are known as MyPlate. There is even an app to help you keep track of what you eat. Much of this research was done due to the increasing obesity rate, as well as the accompanying health issues like heart disease and diabetes. The bottom line is, the diet has been traditionally stressed specifically as important to your physical health.
Your Food Feeds Your Whole Body
There is a lot less conversation about other health factors that your diet impacts. For example, eating healthy now can help reduce your chances of hypertension, osteoporosis, and even some forms of cancer. When you choose those French fries instead of baby carrots, you are actually making a choice that impacts more than your taste buds or your stomach right now. You are making a choice that impacts your whole body now and in the future. You are also making a choice that could impact your mind.
Eating for Your Mind
According to one study on Food, Mood, and Brain Health, your brain actually consumes 20 percent of your daily caloric intake. So if you eat junk food all day long, you are feeding your brain junk food. Imagine putting lemonade into your car instead of gasoline? How would you expect your car to function without the fuel that it needs? Yet if you are not eating nutritious food consistently, then your brain is not getting the fuel that it needs, either. More specifically, the study talks about how your brain may have even more specific needs if you suffer from depression, anxiety, or a mood disorder. Research has shown that those with mental illness actually show deficiencies in Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and folate. All of these are important to brain functions such as the production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine as well as other crucial functions in the brain which support mental health. Have you ever thought about the fact that what you eat could impact your mental health? Did you ever consider that your food choices might determine your mood or other mental health issues? Because the brain is part of your body, what you feed your body is also what you are feeding your brain. And when your body is happy, your brain is more likely to be happy, too.
Some of the healthiest types of foods that you can eat for your brain are fish and seafood. They are very rich in nutrients, including Omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins. In fact, the Mediterranean diet is highly recommended, which includes plenty of fish and seafoods, legumes such as lentils, peas, and beans, whole grains, and cooking with olive oil. All of these foods promote physical health, but also help you to stay mentally healthy, too. These foods are considered brain food. There are also foods to eat sparingly or avoid altogether, such as soft drinks, refined grains such as white bread, too much red meat. Basically, all sugary foods, refined or processed foods, and foods high in fat work the opposite as brain food, and could contribute to future episodes of depression, anxiety, and more.
Healthy Body, Happy Mind
Without stressing out too much about every single thing we eat, a general rule when making food choices is “Will this make my body healthy?” Always do your best to choose the healthiest option available, even if chopping vegetables is more work than opening another bag of chips, or choosing grilled fish doesn’t sound as nice as that juicy cheeseburger. Because ultimately, if you are making choices that make your body healthy, then you are also making choices that will make your mind happy. Is what you eat really that important? Yes. What you eat impacts not only your physical health now and later, but is also food for your brain. What you put in your mouth ultimately does have an impact on your mental health. Your depression, anxiety, or other mood disorder is directly affected by the choices you make in your diet. Learn to fuel your body. Learn to feed your brain.
Find out more about why what you eat is as important to your mind as it is to your body. Call Potomac Programs 1-855-809-0409 today. Eat your way to a healthy mind.