Cultivating a positive mindset is just as important as staying physically healthy, but did you know that your physical health and mental health are directly intertwined? In fact, your diet has a direct impact on your mood and your overall well being. If you find yourself lacking energy often or in a bad mood after meals, consider reading on to find out why your diet may be the cause.
Below are just a few ways your diet directly impacts your mental health. If you feel as if you fall into any categories below, start to substitute healthier foods into your diet. Let’s dive right in:
The Gut-Brain Connection
To look deeper into the connection between a person’s diet and their mental health, the gut-brain connection needs to be discussed. Did you know that your digestive tract is often called your body’s second brain?
More specifically, this area is the enteric nervous system and is two thin layers of over 100 million nerve cells within the gastrointestinal tract. This brain focuses solely on digestion and everything swallowing to the release of enzymes that breakdown food.
The extent of the link between the brain and the gut hasn’t always been clear, but new research is indicating that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may send signals to your central nervous system. These signals can result in a person having mood changes or even increasing the likelihood of depression or anxiety.
For perspective, sugar is a particular cause of inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and can cause a small spike of “feel good” neurotransmitters. This is why shortly after eating sugar you may have a rush of energy that is followed by a crash. As a whole, this crash can make your mood feel worse and leave you lacking energy due to the fake spike.
As mentioned, mood swings can potentially be caused by your diet. When you go to digest healthy food, your gut communicates with your body and lets it know that everything is going according to plan. These signals then keep your mood stabilized and your body feeling better.
However, there is research to indicate that certain foods can actually have an impact on the strength of those signals. It’s believed that some food can actually block those signals and result in mood changes. While these mood changes may not be extreme, they may be enough to ruin your day or make you feel a little more dejected. For more information on how mood may impact mental health, check Mind Diagnostics to learn more.
In fact, a large number of patients who live with irritable bowel syndrome have reported anxiety and depression.
Impact on Mental Illness
As a whole, the saying of you are what you eat stands to be truer than most people realize. While a bad diet won’t necessarily cause mental illness in a person, it can certainly make the symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and a bad mood worse.
A healthy diet can help ensure that you have fewer mood fluctuations, as well as an overall happier outlook on life. Additionally, a positive diet has been linked to improved focus, which means you may potentially perform better at work or academically. This can have the effect of positively impacting your mood or mental health as you feel your success grow.
While a healthy diet is certainly a great first step towards improving your mental health, there is so much more to be done. Simple activities such as journaling or meditating daily are great natural ways to focus on yourself and create a positive mindset. If you do believe that your mental health challenges are beyond your control, reach out to a licensed professional as soon as possible.