The food we eat is more than simply the energy we use up in a day. It contains naturally-occurring chemicals that can affect your mood, stress level, and overall mental state. While fast food and other unhealthy ingredients have some instant comforting psychological effect, they can be detrimental to your sleep, weight, and mood over time. That’s why it’s important to incorporate foods into your diet that don’t just give you instant gratification but also benefit your mental and overall wellbeing in a sustainable manner. These are some examples:
If you were to indulge in something sweet, let it be dark chocolate. It’s more than a delicious snack — there’s scientific evidence to explain why nibbling on dark chocolate makes us so happy. A study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety pointed out that people who consumed dark chocolate compared to other kinds reported lower depression-related symptoms. It could be because of the psychoactive ingredients present in the food, which are believed to induce feelings of happiness and regulate mood. The tastiness of the flavor also adds to the overall enjoyment it delivers, so make sure to choose quality dark chocolate!
It’s an ongoing debate whether caffeine is beneficial for mental health or not. On one hand, it gives people a much-needed jolt of energy and focus. On the other hand, Medical News Today reports anxiety and irritability as some of the side effects of high caffeine consumption. Green coffee is an alternative way to consume caffeine and still reap its benefits and more. Pretty Me’s review of Lean ’n Green Coffee states that it contains a lot less caffeine than a regular cup of Joe. Additionally, green coffee also has mental health boosters like green tea and, more importantly, chlorogenic acid. Research suggests that this chemical, which helps boost the metabolism, might also improve brain function and mood. It reduces oxidative stress on the brain, which can regulate overall mood disturbances.
Fatty fish is a great source of healthy protein and fat. As it turns out, its omega-3 content is also used to treat mood disorders. They help fight inflammation that is linked with chronic stress, anxiety, and depression. Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids contribute to brain function and development, which is why people with cognitive disorders are recommended to consume fish oils!
Do you love yogurt, kombucha, or kimchi? Then you're already one step ahead! These are some of the best sources of probiotics or live bacteria that actually benefit your health. CNN’s article on probiotics and depression highlights the emerging field of study exploring the link between the two. Researchers think that the brain and the gut communicate more than is currently known, and good bacteria play a role in improving both.
If you don’t get a lot of time outdoors these days, one way to make up for it is to consume a lot of vitamin D-fortified foods. These can be in the form of juice, cereal, or supplements. A better idea is to incorporate fatty fish, eggs, soy milk and mushrooms as they also contain vitamin D! This essential nutrient has been found to increase the serotonin levels in the brain which are chemicals that boost your mood and keep sadness at bay.
The bottom-line is that the food you eat has an effect on your overall physical, mental, and emotional state. If you’re struggling with nutrition, a good place to start is our article ‘Nutrition Coaching: Better Than a Meal Plan’.
Article contributed by Jessica Bennings
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