Sunday, 13 December 2015

Food and Mood.

It's pretty well documented that the food we put in our bodies has an impact on our physical health, be it positively or negatively. But what about our mental health? The impact of diet on our mental health is something that I personally find to be a really interesting topic, and so when I saw that Healthy Food Guide had produced an article in this months magazine, I knew it would be a must-read.

My General Life | Food and Mood

The article discusses research that has identified the value of nutrients in the treatment of low mood, stress, anxiety, aggression, autism and ADHD. Some of the research suggests that individuals with nutrient-dense diets experienced lower incidences of mood disorders and that individuals eating a diet low in fruit and veg experienced higher incidences of mood disorders. Research has also indicated that the typical "Western" diet can be linked to higher rates of depression, with the best diet for promoting mental health being the good old Mediterranean diet.

So what are some top tips when it comes to using food to promote positive mental health? 

My General Life | Food and Mood
Ever get hangry? I know I do. Eating regularly allows a regular supply of energy in the form of glucose to fuel your brain and keep your blood sugar level stable. It's recommended that you aim to eat lower Glycemic Index carbs in order to provide a steady, constant supply of fuel for the brain fire.

My General Life | Food and Mood

Micronutrients play a really important role in keeping us well and that's not just physically. Ensuring you get a full range of vitamins and minerals in your diet through eating plenty of fruit, veg and whole foods can be really important for helping our brains work effectively. There's also evidence to suggest that essential fatty acids such as omega 3 also play a valuable role in promoting good mental health.

My General Life | Food and Mood
As I'm sure we're all aware, caffeine is a stimulant and too much of it can lead to experiences of anxiety, low mood and disturbed sleep. It can also lead to withdrawals if you're a bit of a caffeine fiend which are not the most enjoyable of experiences. Why not try reducing your caffeine intake or switch over to decaffeinated drinks and see how it makes you feel?

My General Life | Food and Mood
Protein is made up of essential amino acids, some of which our bodies can't gain from other sources. One amino acid that has been shown to be beneficial for mental health is tryptophan. Tryptophan is essential in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is felt to be important in maintaining our mood.
My General Life | Food and Mood
Our brains contain lots of water, about 80%, and so it's important to drink plenty of fluids in order to support maintaining our brain function. Even mild dehydration can result in feelings of irritability, restlessness, reduced concentration and feeling physically a bit pants.

I think food has a definite role to play in maintaining mental well-being, but that's not to say that traditional treatments such as medication and therapies should be shoved to one side, particularly in an acute phase of mental illness. But I do believe that diet is a part of the puzzle and should, when appropriate, be used alongside other treatments and interventions as a means of promoting overall health and well-being. Nourish your body and mind.

What are your thoughts on the relationship between food and mood? I'd love for you to share them either in the comments below, or drop me a tweet @mygenerallife.

While you're here, why not check out my previous post - Indigo Herbs Kick Ass Vegan Smoothie Mix

*I'm a official blogger, meaning that I receive a free subscription in return for writing about magazines. This post also contains affiliate links*

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Jordan xx