According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Health Survey, two-thirds of Australian adults were shown to be overweight in 2018. Due to this shocking fact, more and more Australian citizens must start thinking about their overall well being and fitness levels. However, eating healthy and keeping fit is not only beneficial for the body but also mental health. So, how can we optimize nutrition and make sure that our cognitive abilities are working at optimal levels? How can we switch up our diets to live a more fulfilled life? Read on.
1.Understand the science between diet and mood levels
The relationship between the foods we choose to put into our body and our mental wellbeing is quite complex and it still requires a lot of research. According to the medical director at Bupa Health Clinics, Arun Thiyagarajan, “Your state of mind is also closely linked to your gut as they use many of the same chemicals, meaning they communicate.” If this is the case, then the best way to avoid feelings of anxiety and stress is by choosing whole grains, dark leafy greens and fresh fruit which will supply our system with vital nutrients and minerals. Some researchers even believe that the gastrointestinal tract is a “second brain”. The gastrointestinal tract is where billions of bacteria responsible for the production of neurotransmitters reside; for example, dopamine and serotonin carry messages from the gut to the cells in the brain. Thus, eating healthy promotes the production of beneficial bacteria, and it also fights inflammation.
2. Eat more natural foods
Based on fairly recent studies, certain additives in food items which are available prepackaged in the supermarket may contribute to increased levels of depression, anxiety and hyperactivity. For example, hydrogenated oils which are used to prolong the shelf life of a product are terrible for digestive processes. Also, trans fats raise cholesterol levels and contribute to obesity. Sugar, another common additive is linked to mood swings, diabetes and numerous other illnesses. Hence, the best thing to do is to ditch the processed ingredients and go for whole foods. Even though there are many healthy restaurant options out there, the best thing to do is to start cooking at home. This way, you know exactly what you are putting into your meals. However, not everyone has the time to cook every single day, and this is where meal prep comes to the rescue. Sydneysiders, we have excellent news for you! Nowadays there is also the option of fresh premade meals delivered in Sydney, so there are truly no excuses when it comes to eating healthy. Whether your goal is to lose weight, maintain your figure or build some quality muscle, meal prep has you covered.
3. Stay away from alcohol
Among the most common and biggest enemies of well being is alcohol consumption. Of course, sometimes a glass or two does not cause any harm, but many people can easily go overboard. Many researchers have shown that alcohol alters brain chemistry by messing up the delicate balance of the different chemicals and complex processes. Most importantly, alcohol is considered a depressant; it affects an individual’s thoughts, feelings and worst of all, actions. When you are feeling a bit anxious or sad, instead of reaching for an alcoholic drink, consider the following; drink a tall glass of ice-cold water, or go for a quick run. These alternatives will certainly be of a much bigger help.
4. Eat more brain-boosting foods
The brain, the main control center of the body needs certain nutrients to keep everything functioning at its best. Unfortunately, many do not consume enough of these food items or they simply do not regard them as important. To make sure that your brain is getting all it needs, do not skip on omega 3 rich fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, or mackerel. A large portion of the brain is made of fat, so it needs omega 3s to construct brain and nerve cells. However, if you do not like the taste of fish, then consider getting a quality omega 3 supplements. Also, make sure to eat a lot of antioxidant foods, such as broccoli, blueberries, pumpkin seeds and dark chocolate. Pumpkin seeds and dark chocolate are extremely rich in magnesium, an essential mineral which combats memory loss.
In summary, optimal nutrition is key for maintaining physical and mental health. If you are struggling with brain fog, anxiety or depression, try incorporating more whole foods into your diet and stay away from processed ingredients and booze. Stay healthy!