You’ve probably seen the Snickers commercials with the tag line; “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” Although it’s meant to be amusing, it can actually be used as an example of how important nutrition is to our mental health.
Multiple studies show malnutrition can play a major role in our mental health. Eating unhealthy foods or not eating enough food can have a remarkable impact on our overall wellbeing. We already know the importance of eating a balanced diet for our physical health, but what about the benefits to our mental health?
If you want to avoid being drowsy, especially during the middle of the day, stay away from meals that are high in carbohydrates. Carbs affect our blood sugar, and when our blood sugar fluctuates too much it can cause anxiety. To maintain a steady blood sugar level throughout the day, stick to eating whole grains and avoid refined sugars.
Protein is particularly important for mental health. There are eight amino acids that are essential to us and must be provided through our diet. Amino acids including tyrosine and tryptophan aid in the development of serotonin and dopamine. Low serotonin levels in the brain can cause aggression, depression and anxiety. Low levels of dopamine can play a factor in fatigue, stress and mental illnesses.
Fats are often perceived to be what make us, well, fat. But the brain and body need unsaturated fats, also known as “good fats,” to function properly. Essential fatty acids including, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, have been shown to benefit people with bipolar disorder, depression and stress.
Proper fats, protein and carbohydrates can help reduce anxiety, depression, stress and other mental illnesses. To mentally and physically feel our best we have to ensure that we stay nourished throughout the day.