by: Michiana Vegfest
While it’s common knowledge that nutrition is important for one’s physical health, what one eats can also have a direct impact on one’s mental well-being.
The tight interaction between your brain and your gastrointestinal (GI) system, commonly referred to as the “second brain,” explains the link between nutrition and emotions.
The following is how it works: Hundreds of billions of bacteria live in your GI tract, influencing the creation of neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that send messages from the stomach to the brain. (Two common examples are dopamine and serotonin.)
Eating nutritious foods encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria, which has a positive impact on neurotransmitter production. On the other hand, a continuous diet of junk food might induce inflammation, which can stifle output. Your brain receives these positive messages loud and clear when neurotransmitter production is in good shape, and your emotions reflect it. However, if production goes wrong, your mood may suffer as well.
Sugar, in particular, is thought to be a primary cause of inflammation, as well as a source of harmful bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. It can, ironically, generate a brief increase in feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine.
Foods that might assist you in maintaining your health
So, what should you put in your shopping cart and what should you eat? Here’s a quick rundown of things to look for the next time you go grocery shopping. At mealtime, you should strive for a mix of these.
Whole foods: Fresh fruits and veggies come to mind.
Fiber is abundant in plant-based foods, which helps your body absorb glucose – or food sugars – more slowly, reducing sugar spikes and crashes. Fruits, vegetables, and nutrient-dense carbs like whole grains and beans are all high in fiber.
These anti-inflammatories can be found in abundance in berries, leafy green vegetables, the spice turmeric, and omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods such as black chia seeds. Dark chocolate includes antioxidants as well as sugar, so eat it in moderation.
This form of B vitamin aids in the creation of dopamine without causing it to spike like sugar does. Leafy greens, lentils, and cantaloupes all contain it.
Vitamin D is an important nutrient
Vitamin D aids in the generation of serotonin and is obtained mostly from sun exposure. However, mushrooms, particularly reishi, cordyceps, and maitake, are a good source.
This vital mineral aids in everything from neuron and muscle function to maintaining a regular heartbeat. It is, nonetheless, crucial to the food-mood connection: A mineral deficit can harm your gut microorganisms, leading to depression and anxiety symptoms. Dark chocolate, cacao nibs, almonds, cashews, bananas, beans, spinach, and other dark leafy greens are all good natural sources.
Foods that have been fermented
Fermented foods are high in probiotics, which are live bacteria that are beneficial to your digestive system. Sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, and kombucha are all examples of fermented foods. (These foods also have a lot of sodium in them. If you do decide to try them, do it in moderation or avoid them entirely if you have high blood pressure.)
You’ve got a lot on your plate, and we know you are always on the go.
You might discover that taking it week by week is more manageable. For example, you could begin by increasing your vegetable intake one week, reducing your sweet intake the next, substituting beans for high protein the third week, and so on.
You can also make tiny healthy food substitutions, such as switching to whole-grain versions of white rice, pasta, and bread. This assists digestion by increasing the amount of healthy fiber in your body. For added flavor, opt for a side salad with nuts, seeds, and colorful veggies instead of a bag of chips. Staying hydrated, avoiding skipping meals, and being cautious of your coffee and alcohol intake are all good tips to follow.
It’s also helpful to be aware of the good things you’re putting into your body, especially when it comes to fighting cravings, so keep track of how you feel after eating nutritious snacks and meals.
Depending on how many adjustments you make, it could take days or weeks before you see the mood-boosting effects of a better diet. Healthy nutrition, combined with regular exercise, can assist in the long run.