Have you noticed how certain foods give us the temporary high to elevate our moods? Eating sugary substances like chocolates or those mouthwatering gulab jamuns bring a smile to our faces. But don't get too excited. But consuming them in abundant quantities could be detrimental to your health. Although your brain needs specific foods to illuminate its so-called 'mood' centers, sugar only serves to inspire them for a while. So much so for 'guilty' pleasure, suitable? The long-term effects of sugary foods and eating foods high in fat could prove detrimental to our mental health.
Our brain functions using neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers which allow communication amongst neurons. This communication is responsible for everybody's function, from muscle movement to digestion to breathing and sleep. This also enhances feelings of creativity, productivity, empathy and increases concentration.
If your body is an automobile, neurotransmitters are the engines. These engines need healthy foods to power your mind and body. Certain foods or specific diets contribute to the synthesis of neurotransmitters and help us alleviate our mood. According to various researches, it was observed that the Mediterranean diet is highly nutritious when it comes to mental wellbeing. The field of nutritional psychiatry closely studies this phenomenon.
What is Mediterranean Diet?
Wait. How can pizza or pasta, which are considered Mediterranean foods, be beneficial to my health? Well, they are not part of an actual Mediterranean diet. It refers to the region's traditional fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seafood with a glass of red wine. This was the staple diet of Mediterranean people in the 1960s, when the rates of chronic disease were amongst the lowest in the world.
How does this help my mental health?
The wholesome nutrients present in this diet can profoundly affect your mental health and help you appreciate the pleasures of healthy and delicious food. What's more? This diet is very inexpensive as well as way more satisfying than any form of processed food. The Mediterranean diet also involves daily physical activity and sharing meals. The people in this region believe that shared meals create a sense of oneness and belonging, necessary for mental wellbeing.
How to bring about the change?
- Consume an ample number of vegetables like sliced tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, cucumbers, carrots and broccoli.
- Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Always consume it.
- Cook an utterly vegetarian meal one night a week.
- Dairy products like milk, cheese, butter or ghee should be consumed in moderation.
- Instead of baked goods, a bowl full of fruits would be the perfect accompaniment after a hearty dinner as part of dessert.
- Induce olive oil, nuts and sunflower seeds in your diet.
- Do cooking and eating a family experience.