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How Food and Mental Health Are Co-related

Nutrition and mental health are closely related because the nutrients we consume can impact our brain chemistry and mood.

Divya Wankhade
It is important to have a balance between comfort food and healthy food. (Photo Courtesy: Pexels)
It is important to have a balance between comfort food and healthy food. (Photo Courtesy: Pexels)

Just like when we are in distress, we are looking for a friend to vent our frustration out; likewise, we have a connection with the food we eat. We rely on food as a medium to comfort us in our lows and celebrate with us in our highs.

Food is that non-judgmental friend who doesn’t criticize us but rather becomes a mate who shares our pain. Whenever our mind is feeling low, it craves sugary food, as it becomes our serotonin in our tough times, but in the long run, it is really unhealthy. We don’t realize this, but if we keep eating comfort food it is only going to do more harm than good to our body. Most people have a sedentary lifestyle, they keep munching.

And, of course, they eventually become fat. Later, they lose their confidence due to obesity. It is important to have a balance between comfort food and healthy food.

The majority of children throw tantrums whenever they are made to eat leafy vegetables, however, they get back to normal when they get something relishing. Have you ever noticed?

Here’s a look at some minimally processed foods that nourish our brains:

Fiber: It feeds good bacteria which potentially helps in better memory, cognition, mood, and focus.
Protein: It supports brain structure, overall functioning, and neural communication.
Fatty Acids: This enhances brain cell signaling, fights depression, and reduces inflammation.
Phytonutrients: These nutrients protect brain cells from metabolic damage.
Research has shown that certain foods affect our mood by modifying our neurotransmitters (brain chemicals), such as:
For Serotonin, if we have carbohydrates, it increases calmness and decreases depression. High levels of serotonin control our appetite and satisfy our cravings.
For Dopamine, if we have protein, it enhances our mental concentration and alertness.

Be mindful of what you eat and how you eat and engage all your senses while you are eating so that you know when you are full, this prevents emotional eating and frequent bouts of binge eating.

Maintain a food journal of what you eat so that you can track eating habits, eat small meals, and consume more fruits & vegetables to balance nutrients in your body for healthy living.

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