How Changing Your Diet Can Help Improve Your Mood
Proper nutrition, exercise and meditation can play an important role in maintaining good mental health. The findings of several studies have shown that people who ate a diet rich in fried foods, processed meats, sweets, high fat dairy foods, and refined cereals were more likely to report symptoms of depression than individuals who ate a healthy diet based on fruits, vegetables, fish and unprocessed meats.
Depression is often attributed to a chemical imbalance in the brain, which can be caused by several factors including stress, medication, and a poor diet. That chemical imbalance can trigger reactions in your brain that can cause shifts in hormonal levels and trigger feelings of sadness, inability to focus, sluggishness and other symptoms often associated with depression.
Researchers at Harvard University noted that depression is often linked to several factors including stressful life events, medical problems, faulty mood regulation by the brain, and genetic vulnerability, several of which can be impacted by the foods you consume.
Eliminating toxic foods and adding the right nutrients to your diet can help to change your mood. Dr. Mitchell Gaynor reported in Psychology Today that eating processed foods and foods high in sugar can promote fat storage and spikes in your blood sugar levels. Your brain is 80% fat and can store toxins that you consume, making it less efficient and slowing down neurological messages which can trigger mood swings. Drinking too much alcohol and caffeine can also make you prone to anxiety and panic attacks and depression. While many people turn to both as coping mechanisms, alcohol and caffeine also lower your serotonin levels. Serotonin, sometimes called the “happy” hormone helps to transmit neurological messages that helps to regulate your appetite and mood.
Consuming the right foods is essential as well. Vitamin B-12 can be found in chicken, fish, spinach, lentils and other products. It is an important part of your diet as it helps to balance your mood and prevent depression. Vitamin D, which is best obtained from sunlight, is a hormonal vitamin that helps produce and process serotonin in your body and is also known to aid in the prevention of mood disorders. Additionally, selenium is found in Brazilian nuts and poultry and also helps to ward off depression. A healthy gut is also a key factor. Good probiotics such as Lactobaccilli and Bifidobacteria help to produce microorganisms that produce neurochemicals made in your gut, and Dr. Gaynor noted that those neurochemicals play a role in your mood and neurological functions.
By Spark Fitness