People often think that a healthy diet means you’ll have a healthy body as a result. Although that is true, did you also know that a healthy diet means a healthy mind? We all have days where we feel really great. We feel energetic, positive, content, and well-balanced. Other days we feel sluggish, tired, sad, and unmotivated for seemingly no reason. In this post, we will talk about the relationship between our diets, and anxiety and depression.
1. Reliance on caffeine
Coffee is sometimes the only thing that can keep us moving throughout the day. As we’re going to work, we stop for coffee to give us that pep in our step. By the afternoon we get that mid-day crash, and reach for yet another cup of coffee to get us through the rest of our day. Unfortunately, caffeine doesn’t really do what we think it does but can pose very harmful effects on our brains.
When drinking caffeine becomes something we need every day, you no longer drink it for that occasional boost. You’re drinking it because your body now depends on it to function. According to The Journal of Young Investigators, when caffeine is absent, there is a reduction of serotonin which will cause anxiety, irritability, and an inability to concentrate.
2. Diets with too much sugar
Today, an average American consumes about 32 teaspoons of sugar per day. We all know that consuming foods with too much sugar is bad for us. Serotonin is critical to regulate a number of bodily functions, including sleep cycles, pain control, carbohydrate cravings, and digestion. Low levels of serotonin have also been associated with depressed immune function.
With an increase in blood pressure, there is also an increase in cortisol production. With the increase of cortisol, it can increase the production of thyroid hormones, causing problems with digestion. It can even cause problems with the reproductive system. Finally, when cortisol levels are too high it can cause infertility and even miscarriage.
3. Alcohol consumption
Most of us know that alcohol is a depressant. We drink without ever really thinking about the repercussions, far past the hangover that we all know follows. Not only is alcohol a depressant, it is also a stimulant. “It suppresses the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate and increases the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. What this means for you, is that your thoughts, speech, and movements are slowed down, and the more you drink the more of these effects you’ll feel.” Alcohol abuse does indeed raise the levels of serotonin in the brain temporarily, however it also has many other effects on the specific serotonin receptors that cause its levels to decrease in time.
4. Eating too many fried foods
We’ve all had a bad day before. Okay, maybe a few bad days. When these bad days hit, we usually turn to the things that make us “feel better”. You know what I mean: cookies, ice cream, chips– you get the picture. How many times have you eaten those foods and actually felt better? I mean, really felt better? We feel good in the moment and then later on we regret what we ate. You have no idea what those foods are actually doing to your mental health. Not only do fried foods cause weight gain, they’re also linked to depression. “Anything that is cooked with hydrogenated oils and contain trans fats could potentially contribute to depression.”
5. High salt intake
I love salt so much that I would carry a salt shaker in my purse if it wasn’t completely frowned upon. I always knew that too much salt was bad for you, and I knew I had a problem when my roommate started buying salt-free butter. I didn’t even know that was a thing. You may or may not know that salt raises your blood pressure. In turn, this requires your heart to work harder.
Try to remember that when cooking at home, use herbs and spices to add flavor to your dishes in place of salt. Also, try to avoid eating foods with a lot of salt at nighttime, because at this time your body is supposed to be unwinding from the day. That’s why you’ll want to avoid making it work harder to process anything difficult.
6. Skipping breakfast
I get it, some of you just aren’t breakfast people. Or you have that “I don’t have time for breakfast” excuse. Well, did you know that breakfast happens to be the most important meal of the day, and skipping it can actually lead to low blood sugar. This will then cause your brain to run on low energy, and if you’re a person suffering from depression you know that you need your brain working full force to help you out.
Sometimes we skip breakfast, and then by lunch we still aren’t feeling hungry, so we just go with it. The real reason you’re not feeling hungry, is because your body has habituated to not eating at this time. This habit could quite possibly result into a binge problem later on. Do yourself a favor and get some eggs and veggies in your system the first thing in the morning. Your body– and most importantly your mind– will thank you.
Foods you should eat for a better mood
- Dark leafy greens
- Fatty fish
Of course we aren’t going to blame your anxiety and depression solely on the fact that your diet needs a little bit of work. But after doing some research, I think it’s safe to say that there is definitely a link between them. We only have one body and mind, and it’s important that we learn how the foods we are eating can affect them.