Diet and You: How Diet Affects Your Physical and Mental Health

In the modern era, we don’t think about our daily diet. In a world where there is a McDonald’s on every corner and there is a rack of candy by every checkout, we have every excuse to eat poorly. But what happens when we have a consistently poor diet? Unfortunately, the saying “you are what you eat” rings true.

The Fast Food Diet and How it Affects Physical Health

Poor diet choices negatively affect physical health in a number of ways, from diabetes to cancer. High sodium foods, foods that are high in cholesterol and bad fats, and sugary foods are the diet cheeseburger fries high cholesterolculprits doing the most damage to our bodies.

  • High cholesterol foods include, but are not limited to, fried foods, yolk-in eggs, red meat, lard, and full-fat dairy. Many of these foods also tend to be high in fat. Anyone that eats them on a regular basis may be subject to obesity, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, heart attacks, or even strokes. Limiting the amount of cholesterol that you eat to 300mg or less per day is best for your overall health.
  • High sodium foods are also bad for your health. While 2000mg of sodium or less per day is the recommended amount, the average American consumes much more than that. Common foods that are exceptionally high in sodium are canned soups and pasta, cold cuts, pickles, cheeses, and prepackaged goods. Eating too much sodium heightens your blood pressure, meaning you may begin to suffer from hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease, kidney failure, heart failure, or stroke. Certain high sodium foods, such as canned foods and microwave popcorn, can even encourage the growth of cancer.
  • Sugary foods are mostly defined as cookies, cakes, ice cream, pie, and other sucrose-laden desserts. Too much sugar can have negative effects on the body, including obesity, aging skin, rotting teeth, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, kidney disease, and even issues with sexual health.

How a Poor Diet Can Affect Your Mental Health

diet mental healthWhile many believe that eating poorly only affects physical health, that is far from the truth. Brain function largely depends on the nutrients that we put in our body, so when the necessary nutrients are replaced with damaging chemicals, changes occur in overall brain health. When the brain suffers, mental health is quick to follow.

The unfortunate truth about sugar is that it is wildly addictive. Sugar releases a chemical in the brain called dopamine, which is one of but a few chemicals in the body that actually makes you feel good. While you may feel good for a short moment, you will not feel good in the long-term. Sugar acts like an addictive drug, urging you to come back for more. That is why we oftentimes crave the pesky ingredient, even though most of us are well aware that it is not good for the body.

Sadly, sugar is not the only ingredient that can hurt the brain. Too much salt can damage the arteries leading to the brain due to increased blood pressure. That is not to say that you should cut salt completely out of your diet, though! Too little salt can also damage the brain. The key is moderation.

Just a few mental health issues that can be caused by a poor diet include:

  • Depression. Poor diet can lead to depression. In fact, teens that eat poorly are 80% more likely to suffer from depression.
  • Anxiety. Depression and anxiety often play off one another, so it is no surprise that a poor diet can lead to anxiety since it can lead to depression. Eating better can help balance mood and ease the effects of anxiety.
  • ADD (Attention-Deficit Disorder). Eating poorly doubles the likelihood of ADD. This is further proof that eating well is pertinent for proper brain function.

How to Improve Your Diet and Your Health

healthy diet blueberriesMaking the commitment to eating better can help your health now and in the future. Instead of indulging in bad fats and sugar, try good fats, fruits, and lots of vegetables. If eating healthy is entirely new to you, here are some terrific choices to get you started:

  • Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are rich with good fats, meant to help both your brain and your body.
  • Avacadoes. Avacadoes are nutrient-rich and also contain the good fats that your body and brain crave. They are particularly good for your blood, meaning that they’re a great option if you struggle with your blood pressure.
  • Dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is not actually bad for you, so it is a good way to kick the occasional sugar craving. Do not eat a lot of it because it does contain sugar. However, the amount of sugar is less than that in milk chocolate. It also has caffeine!
  • Salmon and other fish rich in omega-3. Omega-3s are pertinent for healthy brain function, and many types of fish are rich with healthy diet food them. Salmon also has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Blueberries. Blueberries help protect the brain, the heart, and they act as an antioxidant. They are full of vitamin C too!
  • Beans. Beans help stabilize your glucose levels, which can help combat diabetes.

Bettering your diet will put you on the path to a healthier you. Both your brain and your body will thank you, so the sooner you start eating better, the better you will feel. Remember: you do not have to be elderly to become ill. Nobody wakes up and says “I really regret eating well yesterday”, so when you have doubts and you consider slipping back into your cheeseburger-eating ways, remind yourself that it’s never worth it.

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2 Responses to Diet and You: How Diet Affects Your Physical and Mental Health

  1. tsseer says:

    Cholesterol has been debunked as a “bad food”. In fact it is quite healthy when it comes from natural sources.

    Where as this post is ok it lacks depth to show why good nutrition is about. Listing couple of good foods won’t do as this is too similar to other top 10 lists you’ll find everywhere else.

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