How Can Food Affect Us Mentally?

As many of us know, our diet can affect our bodies, impacting us both physically and mentally.


It is important to remember we all need a balanced diet. So, therefore having some fatty food or even high in sugar foods is good for us as long as it is not too much and not too frequent an occurrence. Even just having too many fruits can lead to complications with our body and mind. Moderation and balance is Key.


This blog is going to look at how food affects our bodies, both physically and mentally. What foods may have a negative impact and how exactly do they affect your mood. Finally moving on to what is known as “depression meals'”. Getting into the habit of eating these meals, what they are and how they can be no good for us.


How can food affect your body’s development?

As known, our diets can have effects on our weight. Overeating may lead to becoming overweight and undereating may lead to being underweight. Not only can a poor diet create problems with our bodies weight, but it can also lead to problems with how our brains function and our mental development.

Overeating can lead to:

  • Tooth decay

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Heart problems

  • High blood pressure

  • Stroke

  • Sleep apnoea - Where one may stop breathing in their sleep

  • Fatty liver disease

  • Gallbladder disease

  • Problems in pregnancy

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Being underweight can lead to:

  • Fertility issues

  • Growth and development problems

  • Brittle bones

  • Hair loss

  • Dizzy spells and passing out

Shortages of nutrients such as iron and iodine can impair cognitive and motor development, and these effects are often irreversible. Early shortages of nutrition can reduce cell production; later shortages can affect cell size and complexity.


How can food affect us mentally?

A poor diet, in which there is a lack of nutrition, can lead to our brains not developing to their full potential as mentioned above. Having a poor diet can also lead to fatigue, impaired decision making and slower reaction times. Thus, leaving us feeling unmotivated and tired constantly, which then reduces our movements.

In fact, a poor diet can actually aggravate, and may even lead to stress and depression. Once being in this cycle for a period of time it will become harder to get out of. Over time leading us to feel depressed and even more unmotivated as we feel we are not being productive.

Once we have been in this cycle for a period of time we can then lose the energy or motivation to want to cook good meals for ourselves.

What foods can affect us mentally?


It is important to avoid foods that can leave us mentally drained.

Foods with low nutritional value, such as:


  • Crisps

  • Pizzas

  • Fast foods

  • Cakes

  • Doughnuts

  • Breads


These are all foods that are high in trans fats. Trans fats make us feel mentally drained as they are linked to decreasing serotonin levels (serotonin being what makes us feel happy).These foods affect our mental health by causing inflammation that could prevent the production of Omega-3 fatty acids that improve brain function and mental health.


How can foods negatively affect your mood?


It is well known that unhealthy eating patterns can cause mood swings. Poor diet also leads to blood sugar fluctuations and nutritional imbalances. Without a consistent source of fuel from the foods we eat, our minds and bodies don’t function well.


Ways that unhealthy habits affect your moods:


  • Skipping meals, especially breakfast. Can leave you feeling weak and tired.

  • Cutting out an entire food group can lead to worsening moods and decreasing energy levels.

  • Eating too many processed and unhealthy foods can cause blood sugars to rise and fall rapidly leading to low energy and becoming easily irritable.


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How can foods positively affect your mood?


Similarly to negative foods, food can also positively affect your mood. We often feel when we take care of our bodies and ourselves we feel better about ourselves. Having a good level of nutrition can help us to stay positive mentally too.


Health habits that will positively impact your mood:


  • Health balanced diet helps to keep us feeling positively refreshed

  • Eating at set intervals throughout the day makes us feel in control and a well-structured routine

  • Including a good amount of protein in our diet helps to keep us energised

  • Drinking plenty of water and sugar, caffeine fluids will also leave you feeling refreshed and energised


Getting into the habit of so called “depression meals”


Now, we are all only human, so we have definitely had days where we cannot be bothered to cook or even just do not feel up to cooking. There is nothing wrong with throwing together a quick and easy, simple meal on the nights here and there when you do not feel like cooking.


However, it becomes easy to get into the habit of just sticking something in the microwave so food is done quickly. These quick and simple meals are often also not good notoriously for us. Therefore having no benefits for our mind and body.


What are good fats and what do they do?


Along with our negative fats we also have our positive fats. With food, it is so important to make sure we have a balanced diet so still keeping a reasonable amount of fats in our diet is beneficial.


Some good fats to consume regularly are:


  • Avocados

  • Fish

  • Olive oils

  • Nuts

  • Seeds

  • Milk

  • Eggs

  • Cheese

  • Dark chocolate

  • Full fat yoghurt


A reasonable amount of good fat helps give your body energy, protects your organs, and supports cell growth. Keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure under control, and helps your body absorb vital nutrients.


Protein contains amino acids, which make up the chemicals your brain needs to regulate your thoughts and feelings. Therefore, meaning-making sure that we have a healthy amount of protein is critical.


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What is meant by Gut Health?


Gut health means the function and balance of bacteria of the many parts of the gastrointestinal tract. Ideally, organs such as the esophagus, stomach and intestines all work together to allow us to eat and digest food without discomfort. Having poor gut health can lead to discomfort when eating. Looking after the health of the gut and maintaining the right balance of these microorganisms is vital for physical and mental health, immunity, and more.


How to Improve your Gut Health?


There are many ways to improve your Gut health.


Here are a few ways:


  • Lowering your stress levels

  • Get enough sleep

  • Eat slowly

  • Stay hydrated

  • Suitable diet

  • Check your food intolerance


What will having good Gut Health help with?


Good gut health will help to; not feel bloated or gassy, improve the time it takes for food to move through your body, pain-free poops and how often you poop.


What will having poor Gut Health create?


Poor gut health will lead to:

  • Having an upset stomach

  • A high-sugar diet

  • Unintentional weight changes

  • Sleep disturbances or constant fatigue

  • Skin irritation

  • Autoimmune conditions

  • Food intolerance



Therefore, showing minor changes to our diet can massively improve our mental and physical health.

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If you feel you would like a better insight into the ongoing mental health problems, we do offer an online Mental Health First Aid course.

Provided by an instructor qualified under Mental Health First Aid England, allowing yourself to become a qualified Mental Health First Aider.

For further information Email: bookings@yourhealthcareacademy.com



Sources used:


https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/adult-overweight-obesity/health-risks


(1)

https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/external/2018/03/relationship-food-mood/#:~:text=It%20is%20well%20known%20that,bodies%20don't%20function%20well.

(2)

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/food-and-mood/about-food-and-mood/

(3)

https://www.healthline.com/health/gut-health#treatment



(4)


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About Me

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I am a multi-award-winning women's healthcare advocate.

 

I am extremely passionate about women's healthcare and mental health.

Did you know that - You are more likely to meet someone about to attempt suicide than about to have a heart attack? Everyone should know what to do.

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