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Eating and Mental Health

GymPlus Team

June 22, 2023

Eating and Mental Health

It always surprises me to see just how many people don’t realize that their diet has a direct impact on their mental health. We tend to see the body and mind as separate. This is a mistake. As the brain is fed through the bloodstream via the blood-brain barrier, what goes on in the blood will necessarily have an impact on what goes on in the brain.

While we know quite a bit already about how the blood supplies the brain with its chosen nutrient, glucose (a simple sugar our whole body loves), we are learning new things every day. But what we do know is that our daily diet has a direct influence on our brain and mental health.

Take Alzheimer’s, which is a continual deterioration of your mental capacity that sets on later on in life. This disease has a genetic compound (APOE4) which makes the brain less responsive to insulin, “Diabetes Type 3”, as it is a disorder where an organ in your body stops responding to insulin, much like in Diabetes Type 2. This can be directly influenced by your diet.

Apart from degenerative disease, your mental health with also be impacted literally by every meal you eat. Thinking about how our brain loves glucose and how it may become diabetic if exposed to too much glucose in its lifetime, it makes sense to see that what we eat, even in the last meal, will have a direct, immediate effect.

So far, I have focussed on blood glucose levels as an indicator of good brain health and mental health. Your brain is 60% fat, so needless to say, the fats that you eat will also have an effect on the state of your mind. The brain needs the right balance of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids throughout life to grow and maintain its functions.

Without going into detail, it is also important to eat a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, plant foods and animal foods to grow a healthy brain and maintain a healthy brain.

eating and mental health

How do you eat well for your mental health?

Eat lots of green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, kale, rocket salad, beetroot greens, etc. They are sources of B Vitamins and Vitamin K which are consumed by the brain in large quantities. So, eat your greens every day with at least one meal. Make it a good handful of greens on at least one occasion daily.

Eat fatty fish. You do not need to take fish oil supplements to achieve good brain health. I am always a fan of eating our nutrition in our daily diet rather than “popping pills”. It is naturally a better and much more sustainable option than supplements. So, eat oily fish 2-3 times per week if you can.

Berries are another great option to improve brain health. They contain myriads of plant nutrients that, quite frankly, we know very little about other than the fact that they help. So, have some berries with your breakfast, eat fruit compote every so often, or enjoy a homemade berry sorbet.

Finally, nuts and seeds are superfoods for your brain as well. They contain much-needed micronutrients like minerals and vitamins and also are ready sources of high-quality unsaturated fatty acids. Try to include some good quality fresh nuts and seeds in your diet at least 3-5 times per week.

GymPlus Team

June 22, 2023

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