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How A Healthy Diet Can Help With Mental Health

It’s a well-known fact that having a good diet is beneficial to your overall health, but how much impact do healthy diets actually have?

Do they really improve your mental health? 

How A Healthy Diet Can Help With Mental Health

The vast majority of health experts believe that healthy eating is fundamental to mental health.

From attention span to concentration levels, countless studies and mountains of evidence indeed do point to this being the case.

If there’s no doubt of the benefits, does eating certain superfoods boost mental wellbeing? How exactly do healthy foods improve our mental health?

With these questions in mind, let’s look at the benefits of a healthy diet, beginning with a broad overview of the established facts.

Outline of benefits

Our brains are the same as our bodies, in the sense that they both need fuel to survive.

Simply put, thinking requires energy, and the quality of the ‘fuel’ makes all the difference in performance and endurance alike.

From playing a sport to lifting a fork, we all need sufficient sustenance to maintain the most basic daily activities.

The problem is that many modern foods are high in sugar and fat and far too low in nutritional value.

A 2018 Global Nutrition Report led to the discovery that malnutrition is surprisingly prevalent in almost every country globally.

This is mainly because most people’s diets lack adequate vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

According to multiple peer-reviewed studies, good nutrition improves mood regulation, memory retention, puzzle efficiency, and mental health in general.

It can protect your brain from many degenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, and provides both short-term and long-term benefits.

As our brains develop over time, the types of foods we eat can even influence their structure. In other words, a poor diet over a prolonged period can negatively affect your memory, concentration, and moods.

On the other hand, a healthy diet can instantly make a difference to your day.

How A Healthy Diet Can Help With Mental Health

Short-term benefits

The next time you have a meal, take note of how you feel afterward. Did the food you ate make you feel more awake or a bit sluggish?

Do you feel refreshed the next day or bloated and gassy? These are small clues that can prove whether your diet is healthy or not.

Aside from your energy levels, food can also affect your overall mood. For example, being ‘hangry' isn't just a pop-culture term.

Not having enough food will put you in a negative mood, but the good news is that it’s nothing that a full stomach can’t solve.

The more important question is, what are you filling your stomach with?

Stress and depression have become incredibly common nowadays, but it’s imperative to eat well to manage them effectively.

Along with exercise, a balanced eating plan will significantly alleviate the weight of anxiety that plagues our modern world.

Some studies have shown that, compared to a more traditional diet, a modern ‘Western’ diet leads to a significantly higher rate of depression.

This research has shown that refined sugars, fatty meats, and processed ingredients have a detrimental effect on health and wellbeing.

So, if you want to stay sharp and healthy, avoid fatty foods and sugary snacks. They're convenient in the short term, but their long-term effects entirely negate their usefulness.

All they do is feed the dopamine levels in your brain, providing little in the way of nutritional sustenance.

How A Healthy Diet Can Help With Mental Health

Long-term benefits<

Our brains need serotonin to function. Serotonin is responsible for several mental functions: sleep and mood regulation, pain inhibition, and mood stability. Any idea as to where our bodies produce the majority of serotonin? In our digestive systems, of course.

A healthy gut needs good bacteria in order to thrive, something that you won’t find in processed foods and sugary beverages.

Our serotonin production relies on these bacteria and, without them, the aforementioned mental functions become increasingly compromised.

Along with serotonin, your diet affects the production of several neurochemicals, going as far as affecting how your neurons are formed in the first place.

Being such a critical component to the formation of your brain means that a nutritional diet is one of the best ways to look after your mental health.

In order to gain the full effects of a healthy diet, it’s essential to start eating well from as young an age as possible.

The sooner your body gets the optimal fuel it needs, the better your mental health will be in the future.

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