What You Eat Impacts How You Feel

June 29, 2023; Unhurry Expert Research Team

What you eat has a direct impact on your brain’s structure and function, which in turn influences your mood.

Your brain is constantly “on.” It looks after your breathing, heartbeat, and senses. It works tirelessly around the clock, even when you’re asleep. This implies that your brain needs a steady flow of fuel. You get that “fuel” from the foods you eat, and the ingredients make all the difference. Simply put, what you eat has a direct impact on your brain’s structure and function, which in turn influences your mood.

Your brain performs best when it only receives premium fuel, just like an expensive car. Eating nutritious foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and guards against oxidative stress, which is caused by free radicals, the “waste” that is created when the body utilizes oxygen and can harm cells.

Eating a lot of refined sugar leads to poorer brain function

Unfortunately, if you consume anything other than premium fuel, much like an expensive car, your brain could suffer harm. The brain has minimal capacity to eliminate chemicals from “low-premium” fuel, such as those you obtain from processed or refined diets. For instance, diets high in refined sugars are bad for the brain. In addition to making your body’s ability to regulate insulin worse, they also encourage oxidative stress and inflammation. Numerous studies have discovered a link between eating a lot of refined sugar and having poorer brain function—and even having symptoms of mood disorders like depression get worse.

Connections between what you eat and how you feel

It is logical. Consequences are to be expected if your brain is malnourished or if damaging inflammatory cells or free radicals are circulating inside the brain’s contained space, further causing brain tissue injury. It’s noteworthy to note that the relationship between mood and eating was not widely accepted by the medical community for a long time.

Fortunately, nutritional psychiatry, which is still in its infancy, is discovering that there are several effects and connections between what you eat, how you feel, and how you eventually behave, as well as the types of bacteria that reside in your gut.

How the foods you eat affect your mental health

The neurotransmitter serotonin is involved in mood regulation, food control, sleep regulation, and pain inhibition. It makes sense that the inner workings of your digestive system not only aid in food digestion but also control your emotions because around 95% of your serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract, which is also lined with 100 million neurons.

Furthermore, the activity of these neurons — as well as the generation of neurotransmitters such as serotonin — is heavily controlled by the billions of “good” bacteria that comprise your intestinal microbiome. These microorganisms are critical to your health. They protect the lining of your intestines and ensure a strong barrier against toxins and “bad” bacteria; they control inflammation; they increase nutrient absorption; and they activate neuronal connections that pass directly between the gut and the brain.

Risk of depression lower in “traditional diets”

Studies comparing “traditional” diets, such as the Mediterranean diet and the traditional Japanese diet, to a normal “Western” diet have found that those who consume a traditional diet have a 25% to 35% decreased incidence of depression. Scientists attribute this disparity to the fact that traditional diets are abundant in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish and seafood, and contain only modest amounts of lean meats and dairy. They are also free of processed and refined foods, as well as sweets, which are hallmarks of the “Western” diet. Furthermore, many of these unprocessed foods are fermented and thus serve as natural probiotics.

This may seem strange to you, but experts are beginning to believe that healthy bacteria not only influence what your gut digests and absorbs, but also the degree of inflammation throughout your body, as well as your mood and energy level.

What is Nutritional psychiatry?

Mental Health Nutrition (Nutritional Psychiatry) is a new branch of nutrition, dietetics, and psychology that investigates the effects of dietary therapies on one’s mental health. Inflammation in the brain is known to be a key source of mental health problems, and it can be caused by a lengthy period of poor diet. Healthy nutrition can help to prevent brain inflammation and even increase cognitive function (the ability to learn new things, reason with others, remember things, and pay attention). 

Nutritional psychiatry: What does it mean for you?

Eva Selhub, MD who wrote this blog on Harvard Health website says, “Start paying attention to how eating different foods makes you feel — not just now, but the next day. Try eating a “clean” diet for two to three weeks — that means cutting out all processed foods and sugar. See how you feel. Then slowly introduce foods back into your diet, one by one, and see how you feel. When some people “go clean,” they cannot believe how much better they feel both physically and emotionally, and how much worse they then feel when they reintroduce the foods that are known to enhance inflammation.”

You are unique, is your food?

“When you’re strictly eating healthy foods you actually are NOT at your healthiest relationship with food.”


Source: https://www.health.harvard.edu, https://www.nutritionhealth.com.au

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