For centuries, people ate food to survive. We worked for our food, hunted and gathered for it, and we cherished the dinner we had in front of us. There were no microwaves or delivery apps; nobody had a credit card to fund whatever kind of meal they craved at the moment.
Yet, somewhere in the midst of drive-thru lunches, supersized sodas, and entire grocery store aisles lined with sugary breakfast cereals, food transformed from a fuel source to a triggering agent resulting in staggering rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and premature death.
While hunger plagues many people around the world, more and more individuals now struggle with a surplus of food- and not the kind that’s promoting a healthy body and mind connection.
Food And Your Body And Mind
Our bodies and minds are not separate machines. They work in tandem, in unison, dancing a talented tango designed to keep your entire self healthy. When we fuel our bodies with poor diets, we deprive our bodies the energy and nutrients needed for optimal performance. This ripple effect tends to make us feel depressed, anxious, and sluggish- and a vicious cycle ensues.
How Food Breaks Down In Our Bodies
Food breaks down into glucose, and glucose is the fuel that keeps us alert and active. Unhealthy glucose levels can cause serious consequences that impact both our body and mind.
Certain foods, like simple carbohydrates (candy, fruit juice, baked goods), release glucose very quickly. As a result, we often experience an instantaneous jolt of energy instantly. This energy, however, is short-lived. Afterward, the body “crashes” and we tend to feel hungry again!
Other foods (vegetables, nuts and beans, eggs, lean meat) release glucose more slowly. The body releases it as a steadier pace, which keeps our focus and attention more balanced. Therefore, you avoid the nasty blood sugar crash (and you stay fuller longer!).
Food and The Brain
Want optimal brain health? Take a peek inside your fridge. Research shows that what we eat can directly influence our brain (which, you know, is the powerhouse for our entire body).
Fish: Fish is packed with healthy oils and omega-3 fatty acids- which can maximize brain functioning. Consider adding trout, salmon, mackerel, and tuna to your diet.
Dark chocolate- Dark chocolate contains healthy antioxidants that can boost concentration and decrease cognitive decline. Enjoy in moderation.
Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds are packed with healthy fats and Vitamin E, which can also slow down cognitive decline. They can also reduce blood clotting, improve cholesterol, and boost satiety.
Berries: Berries have many nutrients including Vitamin C, Manganese, and Vitamin K1. They can help fight inflammation and lower cholesterol levels.
Avocado: Avocados contain nearly 20 essential vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, potassium, and folate. They are full of fiber, and the monounsaturated fat can ward off bad cholesterol.
Beans: Beans provide generous amounts of iron and fiber, which are associated with improved cholesterol levels and reduced cancer and heart disease risk.
Tea: Tea contains flavonoids, which can reduce the risk of several medical ailments and can also boost memory, focus, and mood
Finally, don’t forget about water! Staying hydrated keeps your body in tip-top, working order. Many times, we reach for food when we’re actually thirsty. Aim to drink a glass of water before reaching for your next snack.
Your Gut And Your Health
Research also continues to show the positive association between gut bacteria levels and overall health. Our guts contain microbes that impact our brain and body functioning. These microbes also impact how we store fat, respond to hunger hormones, and balance glucose levels. Finally, our gut bacteria also produce essential neurotransmitters including GABA, serotonin, and dopamine- all of which are associated with our mental health.
Take care of your gut health by incorporating the following foods:
Sure, most of us love digging into a good pizza or ice cream cone. And, indeed, there is nothing wrong with enjoying and indulging in our favorite foods from time to time.
That said, a nutritious diet keeps our body nourished and energized. When we feel nourished and energized, we sleep better, exercise more, and enjoy higher levels of energy. As a result, our body and mind work at a maximum capacity to keep us healthy, sharp, and strong. And who doesn’t want that?
As a Certified Mental Health Integrative Medicine Provider, I take a mind-body approach when working with clients. Interested in learning more about how I can help you? Contact me today!