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Food for thought: How your food affects your mental health


Ever wondered why you would feel cranky if you're hungry? Well, you are not alone. The stomach is often called the ‘second brain’. The connection between your diet and feelings arises from the close association between your gastrointestinal tract and the brain.

How does this work?
Our digestional tract contains millions of bacteria that in-turn influence the production of neurotransmitters, which are chemical substances that carry messages from the gut to the brain.

Consuming a well-balanced diet, consisting of healthy food, ensures the creation of ‘good’ bacteria. The ‘good bacteria’ positively impact neurotransmitter production. Whereas, a diet that is rich in junk food can cause inflammation which hinders this production.
Thus when the neurotransmitter production is positive, your brain receives positive messages and this, in turn, is reflected in your emotions, you may feel happy and content. But when the production is awry, your mood may be negatively affected.

Top foods that will keep you happy and healthy 
Let’s take a look at a few food items you can include in your next meal for positive mental health.

All plant-based foods are rich in fiber. Fiber is essential as it helps absorb glucose or food sugars. Moreover, it also avoids sugar rushes and crashes.
A few foods you can include are vegetables, fruits, beans, grains, and more.

Antioxidant-rich foods
Antioxidant-rich foods are important as they help in fighting against inflammation and boost immunity. Berries, leafy vegetables, turmeric, salmon, etc. are a few examples of such food. Furthermore, dark chocolate also consists of antioxidants which help to evaluate the mood and build your immunity.

Magnesium-rich foods
Magnesium is an essential mineral that not only helps in muscle function but also aids in maintaining a steady heartbeat. Moreover, it is crucial to the mood-food connection. A deficiency of this mineral can negatively impact the bacteria in your stomach which can further lead to an imbalance and anxiety-like symptoms.
So remember to fuel up with natural sources of magnesium by consuming dark chocolate, nuts, seeds, fruits, and other dark leafy greens.

Olive oil
Pure extra virgin olive oil is a great source of polyphenols. Consuming olive oil in your meals and diets can not only uplift your mood but also make you light-hearted and healthy.
Furthermore, the polyphenols in the olive oil help, fight against harmful proteins found in Alzheimer’s Disease. You can include olive oil in salads, starters, and even while cooking your daily meals.
Yogurt contains active culture which is an excellent source of probiotics. Not only does it help improve your gut health but it also plays a huge role in reducing anxiety and stress.
Yogurt is also rich in sources of magnesium and potassium which aid in oxygenating the brain, further enabling it to function better.  

By Arshiya Ahamed