The Link Between Diet And Mental Health: You Think What You Eat

Jun 11, 2018 by apost team

What, exactly, is mental health? It’s a lot of things. Whether it’s making just and accurate perceptions of the world around you, making good and rational decisions, or even just functioning well in everyday life, mental health impacts us every moment of every day. It’s part of our internal world and how we interact with the world around us. 

Mental health is different than a mindset. A mindset is fueled by your personal beliefs - it’s the “why” behind your actions, the motive for you doing what you do. Mental health is all about your ability to do something in the first place.

Just like our values and views are shaped by experiences, our physical and mental health are shaped by the things we eat. The things in our food determine just how well our brains can do what they do - help us think and make decisions. 

Foods to Think Well

Remember the last time you had a greasy burger. Do you remember how you felt after? A bit sluggish, maybe, or less motivated to get back to work afterwards? Compare that to a time you had a salad, or a baked salmon filet. 

Research shows that dietary patterns influence how we think and feel. Eating poorly doesn’t only mean a less fit body, it means we have trouble taking in new information, making decisions, and keeping a good mood. 

Amino acids, for example - you know, the things that help us build essential proteins - are needed by the brain to make neurotransmitters. Those little nodes are the way our brains transfer information, make connections and memories, and send information out to the rest of our bodies. Without enough amino acids in the blood, that process becomes much slower, making it harder for us to remember, think, and respond. 

Did you know your brain is 60% fat? If you’re having difficulty concentrating, getting more antioxidants and fatty acids might be the solution you need. Your brain needs to be able to regulate and access that fat regularly to keep going strong, and those nutrients are what your brain uses to do it! Giving your brain the fuel it needs to function properly will make it easier for you to focus and function. 

If your brain is functioning optimally, that means you’re able to make better decisions about what you put into it, too. It’s a win-win cycle. 

The Risks of Processed Foods

We’ve been focusing on what happens when you eat right - but eating wrong doesn’t just take away your ability to function well. Not only are you at risk for a host of problems with your body, like diabetes and cardiovascular issues, eating processed foods puts you at risk for brain damage, mental illnesses, and depression. It even interferes with cognitive ability

Trans fats can destroy the neural communication your brain uses to function. Nutrient deprivation is shown to lead to the development of depression in some cases. As for cognitive ability? A study from Harvard shows that a high amount of refined sugars and lack of nutrients in processed food means learning and memory take a sharp hit. 

What Boosts Your Brain?

What do you do to take care of your brain? Are there any foods you’ve noticed that give you a mental boost? What foods have you learned to avoid? Show this to your friends to get their opinions, too!