Food And Mood: Understanding The Diet-Brain Connection
The study of the diet-brain connection can also be referred to as the gut-brain connection, food and mood, and nutritional psychiatry. As the title suggests, it means that what we eat can have direct impacts on our brains which ultimately reflects the level of our moods as well.
Accordingly, when we eat highly nutritious food in the right way, it not only nourishes us but also helps in improving our mood. When we intake a well-nourished meal consisting of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients, it acts as a shield for the prevention of mental health disorders like stress, anxiety, and depression.
In this blog, we will understand the diet-brain connection along with three effective diet styles for improving mental health. So, let’s get started!
The Diet-Brain Connection
Diet-brain connection or nutritional psychiatry aids in improving our mental health by controlling our appetite and gut health. This is how a diet-brain connection works…whenever we eat something, the food goes through the gut which consists of various hormones containing gut hormones.
These hormones are carried to the brain for the functioning of cognitive health. Hence, when we eat something nutritious, it helps in improving our mental health. It also helps in the prevention of chronic health issues like Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and others.
Nutritious and mindful eating is not only limited to this but goes beyond processing memories and significant development of the brain. According to the research, “during the development of brain structures in prenatal and perinatal phases, it is important that all the necessary energy and nutrients can be absorbed from the diet.”
This sums up that our brain health is influenced from the womb and all babies should be well nourished for brain development and better mental and cognitive health.
List of Feel-Good Foods
Foods that are beneficial for our mental health are called “feel-good foods” “super foods” or “brain foods.” In this section, I have divided the list into different food groups so that you can take the reference and customize your diet intake for improving your mental health.
Fruits & Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are considered to be essential supplements. They help in improving psychological well-being, emotional well-being, and cognitive processing. In a study, I found out that 8 out of 10 Americans do not consume proper nutritious food, especially in terms of fruits and vegetables.
You can start eating fruits and vegetables of all colors. For example, blue and purple fruits are beneficial for mood and cognition.
We all are aware that purple and blue colored-foods are the most neglected foods of all categories. You can start consuming blue and purple foods like blueberries, grapes, passion fruit, plum, blackberries, black currants, figs, eggplants, beets, purple radishes, and purple carrots.
Nuts are very important for the development of the brain and proper functioning of the brain. Nuts are full of anti-aging properties which means they help in preserving cognition health in older ages.
One study shows that long-term intake of nuts can help in improving women’s cognition. Out of all nuts, walnuts are helpful for improving brain health because they contain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) which are considered to be good fat. Apart from walnuts, you can try eating almonds and hazelnuts for cognitive health.
Seafood & Eggs
Seafood is an important resource for improving brain health because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic (DHA), eicosapentaenoic (EPA), and PUFAs. For example, fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and proteins that helps in building better brain health.
High fish consumption during breastfeeding can enhance the neurodevelopment of children. Eggs are also an important source of PUFAs which helps in better cognitive development.
3 Effective Diet Styles for Mental Health
It is important to consume a meal consisting of all-essential food groups like nuts, dairy, legumes, meat, fruits, and vegetables. Such grouping of essential foods is referred to as a balanced diet which also offers brain health benefits. I have enlisted 3 diet styles that can result in a healthy brain-gut connection.
1. Mediterranean diet
Mediterranean diet consists of monounsaturated fats (MUFAs). This diet also consists of fruits, nuts, fish, plant proteins, grains, and vegetables. It does not consist of the consumption of refined grains and sugar and red meats. Such a diet is beneficial for gut health and also prevents mental health illnesses.
2.The Ketogenic Diet (Keto)
You may know keto as a short-term weight loss diet but do you know it is a low-carbohydrate diet that includes moderate protein and high amounts of fats? Such a diet can help in offering various cognitive benefits.
3.The DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet
DASH is a low-sodium and low-fat diet system that consists of a lot of poultry, cereals, nuts, non-fat dairy products, and more. It helps in improving cognitive health.
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The foods mentioned in this blog are easily available. You can try eating seasonal fruits and vegetables as they are more inexpensive and locally available. Additionally, try buying fruits and vegetables in less quantity so that you can eat fresh. Don’t opt for exotic fruits and vegetables as they are preserved and have less-nutrients than expected. Therefore, buy locally, eat seasonally, and stay healthy!
Moreover, try to include fruits and vegetables of all colors. This dietary style is known as the rainbow diet. Fruits and vegetables of different colors offer different nutritional benefits.
I hope this blog helps you with the three effective diet styles and the list of feel-good foods.
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Thanks for reading!