Food Acts as Fuel for the Brain: Eating a Healthy Diet Can Aid in Mental Health

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Abstract: 

  • Different kinds of food affect the brain in different ways, which can then affect areas of mental health including mood and stress levels. While highly processed foods with more sugar increase stress levels and decrease your mood, eating a well balanced diet of protein, vegetables, and carbs can have the opposite effects.

It’s well known that food fuels the body physically. It helps to build muscle, lose weight, and keep you feeling physically fit. However, many people don’t know that food also helps fuel your body mentally

Eating a healthy diet consisting of vegetables and protein helps increase chemicals in the brain that trigger good moods. On the other hand, foods that are highly processed and have high levels of sugar do the opposite.

95% of the serotonin your body produces is in the gastrointestinal tract – which means that the food you digest can greatly impact your mood. A study conducted in the UK found that eating processed foods, as opposed to non-processed, led to higher levels of oxidative stress, and sometimes, even depression and anxiety. 

The same study looked at the types of foods people were willing to buy. Nearly half of people under the age of 24 reported that time was a crucial ingredient for the type of diet they consumed. Most high processed, pre-packaged foods are readily available, easy, and convenient to buy and consume. 

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Likewise, these types of foods, which are usually less healthy, cost less, which was another important factor for this age group in choosing a diet.

“About 50% of people under the age of 24 reported that convenience is an important part when choosing a diet”

While packaged and processed foods are convenient and cheap, they are also known to contain ingredients that are much higher in calories, sugar, and fat. These foods, when ingested, worsen your body’s regulation of insulin – a hormone that helps control blood glucose levels and promote inflammation and oxidative stress. 

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Microbiology. Hands of a microbiologist inoculating nutritive agar

Shedding Light on Mental Health

Mental health is a topic that has come to light in recent years. According to the World Health Organization, 450 million people around the world struggle with mental health related illnesses. In other words, 1 in 4 people will struggle with mental health at some point in their lifetime. Because mental illness is now so prevalent in society, it is important to know steps that can be taken to help either prevent it, or what can be done when dealing with it to alleviate some of the pain. 

“1 in 4 people will struggle with a mental health issue during their lifetime”

Along with medication that can be supplied to help with some mental illnesses, it’s important to understand there are other factors at play. One of these factors deals with food. 

There is strong evidence that shows food is not only linked to how you feel physically, but mentally as well. Eating a healthy, non-processed diet can help alleviate stress and fuel your brain to have you feeling your best.

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