Here’s how your diet affects your mental health

In 1825, French gourmet Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote, in The Physiology of Taste, one of history’s most famous aphorisms: Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are. Nearly 200 years later, this celebrated phrase remains just as relevant.

a plate of food on a table

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Your intestines are linked directly to your brain. These organs produce 95 per cent of our serotonin, indicating that diet has a large influence on mental health. What you eat can determine whether you feel happy, sad, depressed, or downright suicidal.

Read on to discover how certain diets impact your overall mental health. Be sure to take notes. You may want to make some changes in your eating habits by the time you finish reading.

The benefits of a Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean dietprimarily includes plant-based foods, like fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. Those who follow the Mediterranean diet also eat fewer processed foods, sugar, and pastries.

Many physicians and specialists recommend this diet because of the numerous health benefits it offers, such as a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. It also has a positive effect on mental health. One study concluded that this diet can protect those who follow it from depression. In other words, it promotes improved mental health.

MORE: 20 foods to eat for a better night’s sleep

a tray of food on a table: Need a unique way to get your kids to eat veggies? Have them make their own salad in a jar, à la Hello, Wonderful.

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Need a unique way to get your kids to eat veggies? Have them make their own salad in a jar, à la Hello, Wonderful.

We should eat fruit and vegetables every day. However, to get the most benefit from these foods, it’s best to avoid cooking them or buying them canned.

According to one study, the regular consumption of fresh carrots, bananas, apples, spinach, grapefruit, lettuce, citrus fruits, berries, cucumbers, and kiwi reduces symptoms associated with depression while improving mood. The benefits of eating processed fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, are greatly reduced.

In winter, many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder, a form of seasonal depression. One cause may be a lack of vitamin D. This vitamin can be found in fatty fish, like salmon and tuna, among other foods (oranges, milk, cereals, etc.). Spending time in the sun can also recharge your supply of vitamin D.

In other words, someone who stays indoors a lot and doesn’t consume enough vitamin D is at a higher risk of developing seasonal affective disorder.

MORE: This is what you should be eating after 60

a sandwich sitting on top of a pile of fries

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The effects of a fast food diet

High in trans fats and sugar, fast food changes the body’s balanceof omega-3 acids. Several studies have shown that people who are low in omega-3 can feel more pessimistic, depressed, and aggressive. Your brain suffers when you eat too much cheese, chips, and fatty meats. In addition to making you drowsy (digesting fatty foods requires lots of energy), a high-fat diet can cause depression and dementia.

Sugar is everywhere, making it difficult to completely remove the substance from our daily consumption. In addition to causing weight gain, it can increase feelings of distress in those affected by anxiety, decrease your ability to learn, and interfere with memory.

To reduce their consumption of sugar, some turn to foods containing aspartame. This artificial sweetener, however, can also affect your mental health, according to several studies.

Researchers followed people who consumed diets high in aspartame. After eight days, they discovered that the participants felt more irritable, showed a higher rate of depression, and scored below average on mental tests. Another studyrevealed a link between consuming artificially sweetened drinks and dementia.


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