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The Link Between Your Food and Your Mood

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The Link Between Your Food and Your Mood

Written By Cedric M • 2 min read

Understanding Food and Mood

Did you know…

What we eat not only affects how we look and feel physically but increasing the nutrient density of our meals can also help to keep our mind functioning optimally! 

Having a healthy brain protects against common mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, while also preventing cognitive decline as we age, decreasing our risk for diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia. 

Healthy Fats 

Our brain is an organ that is about 70% fat tissue. The types of dietary fat we consume can either be helpful or harmful to the function of the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered “neuroprotective” as they help to insulate the wiring in our brain so that messages fire at a faster speed. This is especially important as we age because this insulation (known as the myelin sheath) naturally deteriorates over time. 

Some of the best dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids are 

  • Cold-water fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring. 
  • Nuts and seeds, especially walnuts, chia seeds, and flax seeds. 

I recommend consuming fish at least once a week (this is my favorite salmon recipe) and adding chia seeds to my oatmeal or sprinkling walnuts on top of my salads.

High-Quality Carbs

By weight, our brain only makes up about 2% of our body mass, however, it uses up about 20% of the energy that we consume. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and so choosing high-quality carbohydrates is key to optimizing brain performance. 

  • Consume whole grains, beans, lentils, and starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn.
  • You can also include minimally processed bread or pasta. 
  • Limit or avoid simple carbohydrates such as refined flour and sugar. 

Manage Inflammation 

An inflamed gut can lead to digestive issues but also can lead to inflammation in the brain, which is one of the biological underpinnings of depression. 

To have a good functional gut we must;

  • Decrease inflammatory foods
  • Increase fiber
  • Consume probiotics

To decrease inflammation, we should limit the amount of sugar we consume as well as foods that trigger an allergic response. Also avoid foods we could be sensitive to, the most common being gluten and dairy. Fiber is essential in gut health as it is a carbohydrate that our body does not actually digest, rather it is food for all of the millions of bacteria that live in our gut. You can increase the amount of fiber in your diet by choosing whole grains, fruits, and veggies in your day. Probiotics increase the number of bacteria that live in our gut and can be found in many fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi. To keep our gut happy, diversity is key and so getting a rainbow of fruits and veggies into your meal plan is optimal.   

Recap

  • Eat good quality fat
  • Eat complex (high fiber) carbohydrates
  • Increase gut diversity

Enjoy a happy brain that keeps thinking quickly for years to come!

Delany Smith, Certified Nutrition Coach
PFC Nutrition Educator & Dietary Coordinator

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