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Healthy diet and mood

Does a balanced and healthy diet affect our well-being and, if so, how does it work?

“What to eat to be in a good mood all the time? Happiness diet and sample menu for the week. The effect of diet on mood: What to eat and what products to avoid? A good mood diet - what to eat and what not to feel beautiful and happy. Food for a good mood. The path to happiness through food. Optimism diet. A diet that gives you a sense of happiness. ” These are just a few of the headlines in a plethora of articles on the effects of nutrition on our mood and physical well-being. Both "good" and "bad" products and various diets are offered. Then let's try to understand whether our diet really affects our well-being and, if so, how it happens.


How a healthy diet affects your health

Nutritional psychiatry has become an independent field over the last decade and serious research is becoming increasingly available and a link between neurogenesis has been identified. Hippocampus (the area of the brain that makes new neurons) and the human mood.

Healthy eating and eating habits such as diet that includes polyunsaturated fatty acids and polyphenols and the amount of calories a person needs (without overeating or fasting) appear to promote neurogenesis, whereas diets high in saturated fat, high doses of sugar and alcohol, as well as poor sleep quality and excessive stress levels have a negative effect on it.

Interestingly, more and more research shows that there is no specific diet that is better for mental health than others - however, people who follow 'traditional diets', such as Mediterranean diet have a lower risk of depression by 25-35%. Researchers believe that this is due to the higher proportion of industrially processed products in today's modern diet compared to traditional diets, which usually contain unprocessed foods and generally more fiber (which promotes intestinal cleansing and thus nutrient uptake and detoxification).


How your food choices affect your well-being and mood

What you eat directly affects the way your brain works and, consequently, your mood. The main participants in this process are the bacteria in your gut - they not only determine how well you absorb nutrients, but also activate the nerve pathways between the gut and the brain and determine how much serotonin is produced. Serotonin is neuromediatorswhich helps regulate sleep, appetite and mood. More than 90% of your serotonin receptor is in the gut. Low levels of serotonin in the brain can cause anxiety, depression and sleep problems.

For your gut to "feel good", you need to eat high-fiber foods. Do not exclude carbohydrates from your diet - especially whole grains, beans, lentils, as well as various vegetables and fruits, but limit industrially processed foods as much as possible, because they contain a lot of food additives and preservatives that upset the healthy balance of bacteria in your intestines. Simple foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and pickles are rich in probiotics that promote healthy bacterial growth in the gut, so start incorporating these foods into your diet on a regular basis.

By following the basic principles of proper nutrition and using fresh, nutritious and unprocessed products in cooking, you can improve your mood, well-being and feel the influx of energy, but it is only one part of the puzzle. Healthy sleep, physical activity and contact with your loved ones are also very important. And, of course, a way of eating, because even eating healthy products you can not lose weight and lose weight, but on the contrary - to gain weight. How to? Simply - eating more than your body needs, for example - as a result of emotional eating.


Comfort eating

I eat because I'm used to (how I taste) without going into any nutrients and how many calories I eat. Very often the parents of children use food as a reward - do it and you will get something delicious. Not surprisingly, as adults, we continue to associate some foods with pleasure and reward (candy, chocolate, etc.), and on the other hand, we tend to associate 'dietary' foods with 'ugly' foods.

While some of our favorite foods may be soothing to us, we should not associate food with emotions, as it can lead to emotional or stressful eating - when we suppress our emotions while eating - stress, sadness, frustration, boredom or loneliness rather than physical hunger. . It is important to know what causes your emotional hunger and how you feel when you are physically hungry.

Your eating habits are unlikely to be healthy and in accordance with the basic principles of proper nutrition if:

  • Eat until you are overweight or unwell.
  • Don't really taste what you eat.
  • Don't pay attention to the foods you eat and often eat while reading or doing something else.
  • It is difficult for you to remember the taste, smell and appearance of a meal you have just eaten.

Conscious eating

Conscious eating is eating with a purpose, eating with the knowledge of what nutrients and in what proportion are ingested, eating without attention until the body signals that hunger is satisfied. This does not mean that you have to accurately count every calorie and gram of nutrients - it means that you understand the basic functions of nutrients, know how many calories are needed for your body to function normally and try to follow the basic principles of a proper, balanced and healthy diet.

Conscious eating gives you the opportunity to appreciate the food more. It is not a diet and it is about creating a new way of thinking about food. One of the benefits of conscious eating is a better understanding of your body - for example, you are aware when you are hungry and when you want to eat something to suppress your emotions. Studies show that conscious eating can help limit emotional eating and the associated caloric intake that we continue to carry with us in the form of fat.

I am against dogma and the various restrictions on food - there are no good and bad products - everyone can eat (industrially processed products are a completely different story). However, here are some tips to help you stick to the basics of a healthy diet:

  • Shop smart - don't buy food "on your feelings". Make a list of products. Read the product composition. Don't go shopping hungry.
  • Eat when you feel hungry, but you are not too hungry yet, because then you will want to fill your stomach faster than enjoy food.
  • Try not to eat while working, talking on the phone, reading or watching TV. Relax and enjoy your meal.
  • Eat while sitting. This will help you focus on the food and will emphasize once again that meals are an important part of your life, not a trifle to deal with as soon as possible.
  • Pay attention to the appearance, aroma and taste of the food. Try to identify all the ingredients, flavors and textures.
  • Eat slowly. This will help you enjoy the food and feel full before you overeat (from leptin the onset of excretion, which signals to the brain that the stomach is full, it takes about 20 minutes to feel full).
  • Eat regularly. This will help your brain work optimally. Unlike other organs, your brain depends on a stable supply of glucose. The goal is to eat less but more often.
  • Observe the correct fat balance. Our brain is made up of about 50 percent fat. Fat is also needed by our other organs and functions (eg for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, the production of hormones, etc.). Try to keep a moderate amount of unsaturated fat and omega-3 in your diet, use extra virgin olive oil when cooking, add nuts and seeds to your dishes.
  • Reduce the use of processed foods as much as possible - this way you will reduce both the amount of trans fats and food additives in your diet.
  • Cook it yourself using fresh unprocessed products.
  • Organize your meals around whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Cereals, peas, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables (slow carbohydrates) are rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals that are vital for your body. Try to eat different fruits and / or vegetables every day to get different vitamins and minerals.
  • Add a little protein to each meal. Protein contains tryptophanwhich studies show can help reduce depression. Good sources of protein there are fish, poultry, eggs and game, legumes, seeds and also some green leafy vegetables such as spinach.
  • Include fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, trout savā) in your menu. Preferably at least 1-2 times a week.
  • Include snacks between meals, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, low-fat dairy products (yogurt, cheese…).
  • Drink water (at least six to eight glasses a day) - this will help to remove excess salts and reduce swelling, as well as maintain well-being.

Eat healthy and be full of energy and happy!



Systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids on depressed mood

Fatty food for a bad mood. Is it possible to treat and prevent depression in type 2 diabetes with poly-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids?

Dietary intake and symptoms of depression: a systematic review of observational studies

Somer E Registered Dietetian (2000). Food & Fashion: The Complete Guide to Eating Well and Feeling Your Best, Second Edition

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