“If you focus on ‘knocking yourself in shape’ and omitting food, it puts you in a negative frame of mind and emphasizes the limitation,” says Kitty Broihier, MS, RD, LD, owner of NutriComm Inc. “The body perceives constant negative self-talk as tension, [and] a stressed-out body likes to hold on to its resources” — adding, “Fat is a resource for our bodies.”
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Broihier advises you to “think about what you gain” by eating healthier, “such as better health, more energy and feeling good. These positive thoughts make it easier to make choices that support your goals, because those choices don’t feel as heavy as food restriction,” continues Broihier. “Your body won’t be stressed during the process, it will feel safe. A body that feels safe is more likely to respond better to your healthy food choices and that will take you closer to your goal.” bring.”
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Fruits and vegetables, even those that are processed (such as 100% fruit juice), are proven to benefit mental health by positively impacting sleep quality, life satisfaction, mood, creativity, self-esteem, stress, anxiety, depressive symptoms, and general mental well-being, according to 2020 research in the peer-reviewed journal nutrients.
“Most people know it’s good for us to eat lots of fruits and vegetables,” says Broihier. “They provide nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, but also fiber and water. These things are involved in numerous chemical reactions and processes in our bodies that support brain function, including feeding the beneficial bacteria in our gut microbiome.”
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Good gut nutrition is important for the gut-brain axis, a communication network in the body that connects the gut and central nervous system. Research shows that a disruption in the GI tract can alter the gut-brain relationship and negatively impact mood, cognition and mental health.
“The gut-brain connection relies on a healthy gut microbiome,” Broihier says. “Colorful products also contain a wide variety of phytonutrients, which research suggests are linked to improved cognition, including memory, mood and executive function — basically our ability to perform the mental tasks of daily living.”
One study even found that eating up to 30 different types of plants per week results in a diverse gut microbiome, meaning the body has a variety of healthy bacteria that benefit digestion and, in turn, mental well-being.
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In addition to eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, research shows that consuming fish regularly can improve mental health and reduce the risk of dementia. The lipids and essential fatty acids in fish have been proven to reduce the risk of depression and prevent age-related mental and cognitive decline. Harvard Health suggests that consuming one or two 3-ounce servings of fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines, will reduce the risk of depression and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as heart disease and stroke.
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According to a review by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Healthfollowing an anti-inflammatory diet with a high intake of vegetables, fruits and fish was associated with a reduced risk of depression.
While fish, fruits and vegetables are important foods in an anti-inflammatory diet, including other anti-inflammatory foods is key to getting a variety of nutrients such as nuts, seeds, whole grains and olive oil. Many of these foods contain healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids that have been proven to benefit mental health by boosting mood, reducing depressive symptoms and reducing the risk of developing neurological disorders such as dementia.
Conversely, it is important to reduce intake of inflammatory foods that can worsen depression symptoms. This includes added sugar, soda, and junk food. Experts typically recommend reducing the intake of these foods to benefit mental health.
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