Since 1949, May has been recognized as Mental Health Month. This year, we asked ourselves, how does food affect our mental health? The answer came in many forms, from studies showing the connection between sugar and attention deficit disorders, anxiety, and depression to proof that (good) bacteria can boost your mood. We have a few tips to help YOU implement simple changes to your diet that can positively affect your mentality for the long run.
Sugar and processed foods 👎
At this point, it’s pretty common knowledge that sugar contributes to physical health problems such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. More recent research proves that sugar and other sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses, and syrups, can impact mental health as well. According to Psychology Today, heavy sugar consumption can be tied to an increased risk of depression and can affect those diagnosed with schizophrenia even more. This can be attributed to the spike in blood sugar which is followed by a crash, making it difficult to regulate your mood.
Symptoms of anxiety can also be amplified with heavy sugar and fat intake, especially in those prone to anxiety and panic attacks. Symptoms of a sugar high include blurry vision, difficulty thinking, and fatigue which can subliminally increase worry and fear. While eating less sugar can reduce symptoms of anxiety, cutting sugar out of your diet cannot cure anxiety.
Work toward regulating your mood by first noticing the amount of sugar you intake and the affect it does or does not have on your mood. Adjust accordingly!
Omega-3 fatty acids 👍
Without getting into all the technical lingo which includes terms like ‘myelin sheath’ and ‘neuronal membranes’, we can tell you that a study of 4000 Finnish reported that the more fish consumed by the study group, the lower their risk of depression and suicidal thoughts. Another study by New Zealand Institute for Crop and Food Research found that fish consumption can be related directly to an increase in mood and outlook on life. Wondering what fish are best for getting your dose of fatty acids? Try oily fish like mackerel, sardines, salmon, and herring.
Once a week, add a Catered Fit fish meal to your delivery! We offer delicious choices like our Strawberry Fields Salmon Salad every week.
Whole Grains 👍
Your brain functions on glucose which comes from carbs. But not all carbs are created equally! Simple carbohydrates and refined sugars cause spikes in blood sugar, as we just discussed. Like a drug, these simple carbohydrates give you a boost of dopamine, which feels great for a while, but coming down can leave you with a low mood. So where does the good ol’ glucose come from? Complex carbohydrates! Complex carbs release glucose slowly, providing a steady source of fuel for the brain and the body.
Great sources of complex carbs include bulgar, oats, wild rice, barley, beans, and soy. Find steel cut and rolled oats on our weekly breakfast menu in many different and super tasty variations!