Not all foods are created equal when it comes to fueling our bodies — and especially our minds. You know that afternoon crash after a carb-heavy lunch? That bizarre dream after a spicy dinner? Everything we put into our mouth affects our brain, which impacts how we feel. Here are some guidelines on ingredients that can hurt or help us feel brilliant.
That doughnut may taste like heaven going down, but it can certainly cause more harm than good when it comes to how you’ll feel after it has been digested. Not only does refined sugar cause weight gain and contribute to diseases such as Type II Diabetes, but studies have found that too much can impair our brain function and lead to depression and other mood disorders.
Did you know that your gastrointestinal system impacts your emotions? Most of your body’s serotonin is made in the digestive tract. Serotonin functions as a transmitter in neurological processes such as sleep and memory. Good bacteria, or probiotics, helps promote top performance of these activities. For example, studies show people who take probiotics have less anxiety than those who don’t. Beyond supplements, how can you boost this in your diet – and boost your mood? Eat a probiotic yogurt and foods high in fiber.
Foods like walnuts, tuna and salmon are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for the body and the mind as they help support brain function. These foods help us fight mental health disorders such as dementia and boost memory. They are also healthy for children – kids with a diet rich in omega-3 tend to have less behavioral problems. Aim to eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids two to three times a week.
The caffeine found in coffee can give you an extra boost of energy and help you feel more awake. Coffee becomes something our brain craves because it likes the stimulation felt from it. Read our recent blog post, The Science Behind Our Favorite Comfort Drinks: Coffee and Tea for more information.
The next time you head to the grocery store, think about the food you buy. Remember how certain foods make you feel and adapt your diet to deliver top performance. Your brain will appreciate it!
Selhub, Eva, MD. “Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain on Food – Harvard Health Blog.” Harvard Health Blog RSS. Harvard Health Publications: Harvard Medical School, 16 Nov. 2015. Web. 15 Aug. 2016.
Sweeney, Julia. “How Does Food Influence Our Dreams?” First We Feast. First We Feast, 16 Sept. 2014. Web. 15 Aug. 2016.
Wolpert, Stuart. “Scientists Learn How What You Eat affects Your Brain – and Those of Your Kids.” UCLA Newsroom. UCLA Newsroom, 08 July 2009. Web. 15 Aug. 2016.