The delicate connection between the human brain and the gastrointestinal tract has long been proven to have a significant influence on our emotions and mental wellbeing.
It is true that the millions of bacteria residing in the GI tract are not only involved in processes related to digestion and nutrient absorption, but they also have a huge impact on the balance of chemicals in the brain. Indeed, consuming good quality food encourages the proliferation of good gut bacteria, which in turn has a positive impact on our minds.
Maintaining a diet high in healthful and nutritious ingredients can, among other things, help decrease the occurrence of mood swings, contribute to having a nicer outlook overall, and also promote better concentration. Read on to find out how exactly a balanced diet can help you achieve the most positive effects on your mental health.
1. Reduces Stress
A balanced diet rich in omega-3 fats can equip you to deal with stressful situations by helping to control your cortisol levels. Moreover, the brain produces more serotonin in response to carbohydrates. Eating complex carbohydrates, which take longer to digest, is the greatest option for a consistent supply of this feel-good hormone. Complex carbs include whole-grain flour, pastas, and oatmeal.
A healthy diet, together with some form of physical activity, can truly assist in alleviating the effects of stress; therefore, consider meal planning if you frequently eat fast food because you are too exhausted or busy to make meals at home.
Additionally, physical activity can be anything from going to the gym, jogging, or even doing yoga — for which you do not have to go through special yoga teacher training to get started. While searching for healthy and easy meal plans, you can also look up some at-home yoga exercises online.
2. Alleviates Depression
Unfortunately, no single diet has ever been shown to effectively treat depression; however, a healthy and balanced eating regimen may help as part of your overall treatment. For example, an amino acid found in foods like chicken, tuna, and turkey called tryptophan can aid in the production of serotonin.
Furthermore, since protein plays an important role in managing symptoms of depression, try to have a protein-rich meal multiple times a week, especially when you feel emotionally drained. Beans and peas, lean beef, cheese, fish, chicken, soy products, and yogurt are all excellent sources of lean protein.
3. Enhances Brain Capacity
According to nutritionist Adam Kemp, eating foods that have a high nutritional value can greatly enhance your brain performance. This means that consuming high-quality brain foods like blueberries, wild salmon, and dark chocolate, as well as cutting out processed food that makes you feel mentally incapacitated, will work wonders in terms of how clearly and effectively you are able to perform at work, school, or in your personal life.
In general, our problem-solving skills and reaction times are directly related to our daily nutrient intake — and lack thereof. If you notice yourself feeling sluggish during the day and struggling to manage basic tasks that require concentration and focus, make sure to get your diet in check.
4. Improves Energy Levels
Eating a balanced diet with a mix of unrefined carbs, fats, and proteins can help you maintain high levels of energy in the morning and throughout the day. Additionally, consuming specific meals in specific amounts can help prevent fatigue.
Different kinds of foods are converted to energy at different rates, so some can offer you a rapid boost (like sweets and other simple sugars) while others provide you with the stamina you need to get through the day (like whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats). However, save the white starches and refined sugar for special occasions only. While they do give you a brief energy boost, that effect quickly wears off and can leave you feeling drained and hungry again.
Eating a balanced, healthy diet can play a beneficial role in your mental health. The benefits of a balanced diet on your mental health include reducing stress, depression, in addition to improving concentration and energy levels.