If you’re looking to get active and improve your overall health this spring, it all has to start with your diet. The fuel that feeds your body and mind is the fuel you put in - nothing else. If you want to run like a fine-tuned machine, you have to give yourself the premium stuff.
The good thing about healthy eating is that it doesn’t just affect a few body systems in a positive way. Healthy eating impacts pretty much every part of your body and mind. Without this base of health, you will have a hard time achieving your fitness goals. Here are some ways a good diet provides and total body boost and some tips for eating right.
Healthy diet and mental health
Everyone knows the multitude of benefits that healthy eating has on our body and our body systems. Healthy eating prevents the onset of diabetes. It boosts our immune system. It lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. It helps our skin stay healthy and youthful. It works to create a better-functioning digestive system. The list goes on and on.
But the benefits of healthy eating extend to the brain, and as the control center for the entire body these benefits might be the most important of all.
“Research linking diet and mental health shows that food—along with other factors—plays an important contributing role in the development, management and prevention of specific mental health problems such as depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Alzheimer’s disease,” according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Proper nutrition is also vital for good sleep, reducing chronic pain, and avoiding relapse for those in recovery.
How? Well, if you know that about 95% of your serotonin - a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain - is produced in your digestive tract, it begins to make sense. “Your gastrointestinal tract is lined with a hundred million nerve cells, or neurons … it makes sense that the inner workings of your digestive system don’t just help you digest food, but also guide your emotions,” notes Harvard Health.
So what should I eat?
Good question. “Healthy eating” is a generic phrase and can be interpreted in many ways (depending on your perspective), but there is a good scientific consensus about what constitutes a good diet.
The first step you should take is to replace most of your calorie-packed beverages with water. Ditch the soda. Throw out the sweet tea. Your water intake has a significant impact on weight loss and organ function.
There are certain foods that are linked with good mental health. These include fatty fish like salmon, leafy greens, yogurt, nuts & berries, and whole grains. Fatty fish, specifically, is a power brain food due to the presence of omega-3 acids. Why is fish so great? “This is likely because of the effect omega-3s have on the production of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals responsible for our moods), including dopamine and serotonin. By supporting the synapses in the brain, omega-3s also boost learning and memory,” notes Psychology Today.
When it comes to what you should limit in your diet, think things like refined carbohydrates, red meat, caffeine, alcohol, and sugar. You don’t have to completely give all of these up to be healthy, but you do need to be cognizant of how much you’re consuming. Above all else, healthy eating plays the largest role in overall health - both mentally and physically.
Without adhering to a good diet, it becomes difficult to improve your health in other ways like getting proper sleep and solid amounts of exercise.
Radical change is hard, so taking any small step toward a better diet - even if minuscule - is preferable to no change at all.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com
Jackie Waters has a website with recipes and green cleaning tips called hyper-tidy.com. Thanks for her contribution for a healthy diet and how it might impact some health conditions.