Does diet affect our mood?
Good mood food...
Scientific evidence shows that what we eat not only affects our physical health, but also our mood and mental health.
Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates
Junk food is full of sugar, some seen and some unseen, and refined white starches. That sugary doughnut may give us an immediate lift, but it’s always followed by a low. Sugar, processed foods and refined carbs, such as white bread, instantly increase your blood sugar levels and make you feel great but that high is short lived.
Complex Carbohydrates and Protein
Complex carbohydrates, such as beans and oats, not only slow down sugar absorption but they also increase serotonin – the ‘happy’ hormone. Adding good protein to our diet, such as eggs and seafood, slows carb absorption and increases the presence of other ‘happy’ hormones such as dopamine and norepinephrine.
Trans fats, which are found in foods such as flavoured popcorn, biscuits, iced doughnuts and fried fast foods, should be avoided at all times. In a study involving 12,000 subjects, it was found that people who had diets high in trans fats were more prone to depression. Trans fats cause inflammation in the brain which in turn can cause depression. We need fats but only the good kind such as those found in avocados, oily fish, seeds and nuts and olive oil.
Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, chocolate and many drinks, including coca cola and energy drinks. It gives us an instant lift and are tempted to use it to stay awake during long working days or study sessions. Caffeine needs to be carefully regulated because after that initial high, there is then the long let down. Also, too much caffeine disturbs sleep patterns and can cause shaking.
Many people eat foods that are high in sugar and refined carbs as a release from depression and stress. This emotional eating pattern can be helped by practicing mindful eating.