This article has been updated and reposted
All of our normal behaviors have been interrupted with concerns over COVID-19. One of the obvious changes have been the dramatic shift back to eating in.
May we revisit the importance of food choices in regard to health and mood?
Next time you’re not feeling your best, you should evaluate the foods you have in your pantry and fridge. Eating a proper diet does more for the body than just nourish it and help you maintain a healthy weight–it can also affect your mind and your mood. The inverse is also true. If you’re eating the wrong foods, you might see the effects of it in more than just the number on the scale.
You’ll have to do more than simply eat an apple every day to start seeing true benefits of a healthy diet, but the sentiment behind this old and common expression rings true. Adding fresh fruit and veggies, along with whole grains, healthy fats, and protein-rich foods to your diet does a world of good. And while you’re adding those staples to your grocery list, consider taking away heavily processed foods as well as refined sugars and sweets.
Some of the effects of a poor diet are obvious to even the untrained eye. If you’ve found yourself dreading stepping on a scale, or unable to zip your jeans, you’ve seen first hand some of the more obvious effects of your food choices. But if you’ve been struggling with your mental health, you might not put the two together and realize that your food choices may affect your mind just as much as your body. Several studies have been published emphasizing the importance that food can have on your body, including helping with depression, the connection with chronic inflammation and depression, and the role that gut health and bacteria play in your daily life.
While a lot of evidence is available to indicate that eating the right foods might help your mental health, it’s not always that simple. The connections are certainly there, but the causes of depression and mood disorders are complex. They can stem from outside influences, chemical imbalances, as well as being overweight. The assumed connection between the proper diet and improved mental health centers around how the body handles inflammation, which can be reduced by choosing the right foods. Inflammation is how your body reacts when it’s distressed. Inflammatory cells are sent to a problem area to help heal it. While it can be a good thing in certain aspects of health and healing, too much of a good thing is still too much. When your body is on constant alert, and these healing cells are always in play, it can cause a buildup of plaque in the blood vessels. This has been tied to Alzheimer’s and can cause chronic pain and discomfort in the joints.
The first thing you should do is check out the foods you’ve been eating and make some changes. If you haven’t been paying a lot of attention to your nutrition, don’t plan to do it all at once. Gradually replace your unhealthy foods with other choices that contain healthy fats, oils, whole foods, and protein. Make sure you’re also incorporating exercise into your daily routine, as it has also been known to help with both physical and mental health. If you’re not sure where to start, book an appointment with Carolina Digestive Health Associates to gain a better understanding of how your gastrointestinal system is tied to every aspect of your health and well-being.