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6 Eating Habits That Make You Anxious And Depressed

6 Eating Habits That Make You Anxious And Depressed

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
  • Walnuts
  • Avocado
  • Berries
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Beans
  • Seeds
  • Apples
  • 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.

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Erica Wagner

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

12 Best Brain Foods That Improve Memory and Boost Brain Power

12 Best Brain Foods That Improve Memory and Boost Brain Power

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and black tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here:

11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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