Most of us have heard the old adage, “You are what you eat”. It implies that it is important for us to eat good, nourishing foods to have a physically healthy body. But there’s also a mental aspect to it too, with multiple meanings. For one thing, the foods that we consume don’t just nourish our muscles, our joints, and our skin – they can also affect our moods and emotions, sometimes even being a key factor behind our psychological state. Then there is also our relationship with food to consider: the way we choose our meals, along with how often we eat them, how much we eat, and why we are reaching for those particular things at certain times is often very closely interlinked to our mental state as much as our physical need to satiate our hunger.
In fact, the connection between our stomachs and our minds is so powerful that many people even refer to our guts as our “second brains”, with our guts being just as capable of sending signals to our brains as our brains are of sending signals to our gut.
Our nutrition can also affect our mental performance, with certain foods and drinks being able to enhance our cognitive abilities, and others impairing them.
The importance of a well-balanced diet is just as important as a well-balanced mind – and it seems that the two are more closely related than many of us may think.
Have you ever heard the term “gut instinct”, or the phrase “trust your gut”? Some people call it a sixth sense, and others call it a hunch. Whatever your chosen phrase for it, it’s that feeling you get when you just know something. When some type of impulse deep in your gut tells you that you don’t need to think about something more, or mull over your opinion一you can almost feel it tugging there, like some sort of unseen force guiding your intuition.
Is there anything more infuriating than a delayed food delivery? Well yes, plenty probably, but there’s nothing quite like facing the wrath of somebody whose lunch hasn’t arrived on time. This specific kind of distress, feeling both hungry and angry at once, has become known as feeling “hangry”.
It’s no secret that the brain is a hungry organ. All of the thinking we do accounts for up to 25% of the body’s daily energy expenditure. A healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat, known as macronutrients, is essential fuel for the synaptic firing of our busy brains. Generally speaking, a diet rich in fresh produce will have you covered. But there are some foods that offer an extra shot of brain power thanks to their high composition of certain micronutrients, i.e. vitamins and minerals, that are particularly beneficial to brain health. Here are some super-powered eats worth adding to your diet if you’d like to give your cognitive functioning, memory, or concentration skills a boost.
No matter where we’re from or what we do, one of the questions we are asked – or ask others – most often is “What do you want to eat?” And in the modern day, many of us are inundated with options that can leave us with choice paralysis – whether that’s spending far too long scrolling through a food app, to flipping through the pages of an enormous restaurant menu, or browsing hundreds of online recipes as you figure out what to cook for dinner. It’s not an easy question to answer – and it can get even harder when you are taking into consideration not only your budget and waistline, but also how the food you eat can impact your mental and emotional health. How does nutrition affect mental performance? What is the mind-gut connection? Can eating certain foods make us happier, and do “aphrodisiac foods” really work? What is the best diet? What is nutritional psychiatry? There are countless questions we could ask surrounding food and our mental, emotional, and physical health (and how it’s all interlinked), many of which will have in-depth answers with many nuances. But when it comes to the question, “Can what we eat and drink affect our mental health?”, there is only one answer: a resounding yes.
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