Oct 11, 2017

Healthy diet, happy mind!

With mental health high on this week’s radar, it’s a great time to look at how your diet and nutrition plan can contribute to a happier, more confident self.  With 1 in 6 people in the last week experiencing a common mental health problem, it’s a prevalent issue across the UK. And easy to see how it has provoked research into the effects of what you eat on your state of mind.

It’s safe to say that food does affect how you feel.  A good diet is as important to your mental health as it is to your physical health.  So, when you combine strategies for eating regularly with foods that have a positive impact on your well-being, the chances of you feeling good are significantly higher.

The key is to eat more healthy foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables, organic foods and homemade meals and less unhealthy foods such as ready meals, takeaways, chips, crisps and chocolate.  Recent research has shown that only 13% of men and 15% of women are now eating at least five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables per day, this is a 34% decline in the last 60 years.  A decline that is not great for a food group known to boost your mood.

And as well as fresh fruit and vegetables, there is an abundance of choice of other foods that are kind to a healthy mind.  The ideal is to avoid foods that are high in refined carbohydrates, such as sugar and load on foods like protein, vitamins and complex carbohydrates.  This is because sugary foods have the obvious effect of making you feel happy and high and then lonely and low, all in a short space of time.  This can’t be good for any attempt at nurturing a happy state of mind.

Complex carbohydrates on the other hand, can slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream and increase the feel-good chemical, serotonin.  Oats, beans and peas fit nicely into this group and all are easily incorporated into a healthy diet.  Similarly, a diet high in protein will help slow the absorption of carbohydrates into your blood, increasing the release of dopamine.  Good sources of protein are eggs, poultry and seafood, all of which can contribute to a good mood and high energy levels for several hours after eating.  Our ‘Eatwell Plate’ is a great resource for helping you to make better food choices in your daily diet.

So who knew that your body’s release of natural chemicals played such an important role in how you feel.  And more so, who knew that what you eat has a direct effect on this?  But it’s not just about what you eat.  Your eating strategy, including how and when you eat is also a key consideration.  So eating small, healthy portions regularly throughout the day will help to keep your blood sugar levels steady, meaning your body is never short of fuel and you feel raring to go.  Sugary spikes will provide a false, short-lived sense of this, but are known to soon leave you feeling tired and cranky.

In addition, we are in an era of busy lifestyles, crazy work patterns and hands-on family life meaning we are playing into the hands of processed foods.  Inevitably, these foods are higher in fat, sugar and additives and the temptation to take the easy option is always so appealing.  These foods will quickly meet the hunger demand, but prolonged periods of a processed diet will not meet the demand for a positive sense of well-being.  However, with a little effort and forward-planning, we can easily increase our intake of fresh, nutritious, local produce.

And even better, the basis of a good diet for a happy, healthy mind is also a winning diet for people at risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.  And, as people with diabetes experience disproportionately high rates of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders, the role of a well-balanced diet is even more paramount.  Using the weekly meal planner on our website is a great way to plan and regulate your daily food intake, ensuring you are aware of the food groups you are eating and the calories you are consuming.

If you feel you may be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and would like to know a little more about the signs and symptoms, then register for a free account at www.equalibras.co.uk today where you can also view hints and tips on energy-boosting recipes and exercise routines…great for at home or in the workplace.

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