You may have heard that – you are what you eat and many health experts agree with this notion. The growing menace of mental health problems indicates that something is wrong – either with our lifestyle or with our diet. Your brain is constantly fed with nutrients or chemicals that your derive from what you eat and have a direct impact on its functioning. By shaping your diet, you can definitely improve your mental health. On the contrary, there are some foods that are known to trigger depression and anxiety and it helps to try and avoid them as much as you can. In the spirit of commemorating Mental Illness Awareness Week, here are five foods and ingredients that can wreak havoc with your mental health and you should be aware of.
1. Sugar: When you consume too much sugar your blood glucose levels shoot up and the levels of a certain type pf protein that controls the growth of neurons and synapses declines. This makes your brain work at a sub-optimal level, making it more vulnerable to trigger depression.
2. Alcohol: Alcohol is known to exacerbate the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Alcohol affects the working of the central nervous system which is responsible for processing information received through our five senses. It is also a known fact that alcohol often acts as a depressant.
3. Hydrogenated oils and saturated fats: Processed or packaged foods usually contain hydrogenated oils, saturated fats and trans fats.They may clog the arteries and block blood flow to the brain, thus affecting the way it functions.
4. Foods with High Sodium: Extra sodium in your body can affect your neurological system and disrupt your emotions. It can damage your immune system and make you feel lethargic and fatigued.
5. Caffeine: Caffeine has a negative effect on sleep. Studies have shown that people who consume high amounts of tea, coffee or even energy drinks find it hard to sleep or stay asleep. Sleep is directly related to our mood and inadequate or disturbed sleep can mess with our mental health.
A balanced diet with all the foods groups and essential nutrients like proteins, fiber, carbs and healthy fats can really help in boosting your mental health.