We all know that eating healthy foods improves our physical health and reduces the risk of developing diabetes, cancer, heart disease and obesity. However, it is not well known that eating healthy foods improves our mental health and reduces the risk of depression and anxiety disorders.
Mental illness is increasing at an alarming rate today. Medications and therapies used for this type of illness cost $ 2.5 trillion a year worldwide. However, there is evidence that some changes in diet reduce the risk of developing mental illness and the cost of treating these illnesses. For this reason, clinicians in Australia recommend that the treatment of depression should be done through diet regulation.
Recently, it has begun to be understood how certain nutrients can affect psychological health. The increase in these nutrients not only contributes to physical health but also reduces the cost of mental health problems around the world.
1) Complex Carbohydrates
One way to contribute to psychological health is to give brain cells the right fuel through carbohydrates in food. Complex carbohydrates; They are sugars composed of large molecules containing fiber and starch. They are found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods. They are beneficial to the brain as they release glucose slowly into the body. Slow release helps to keep the energy constant.
The simple carbohydrates found in sugary snacks and beverages quickly lower and raise the sugar level in the body. This event also has a negative effect on psychological health by reducing the feeling of being happy. Usually, we consume sugary foods when we feel unhappy, to feel better. However, this consumption makes an addiction-like habit in the brain and, like the drugs prohibited by law, improves the mood in a short time, but creates a negative effect in the long term. Increasing the intake of complex carbohydrates and reducing the consumption of sugary snacks may be the first step towards increasing happiness.
Oxidation is a normal process for cells to perform their functions. This chemical reaction generates energy for the body and brain. Unfortunately, this process also creates oxidative stress (molecules called reactive oxygen species that can oxidize all molecules in the tissue), which occurs in greater amounts in the brain than in other parts of the body.
Chemicals that increase the feeling of happiness in the brain such as dopamine and serotonin decrease due to oxidation and this reaction causes mental health deterioration. Antioxidants found in brightly colored foods such as fruits and vegetables defend against oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain and body.
3) Omega 3
Omega 3; It is a multi-chain unsaturated fatty acid that is involved in the conversion of food into energy. It is important for brain health and also interacts with feel-good chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, and neuroepinephrine. Omega 3 fatty acids are commonly found in oily fish, nuts, seeds, fibrous vegetables, eggs, and red meat.
It has been determined that Omega 3 increases brain function, reduces the progression of dementia (dementia) and improves depression symptoms. Omega 3 is a compound that is not produced by the body but must be consumed. Therefore, we must include foods with high amounts of omega 3 in our daily diet.
4) B vitamins
B vitamins play a major role in producing the brain happiness chemicals serotonin and dopamine and are found in green vegetables, beans, bananas and beet root. It is known that high amounts of B6, B12 and folate in the daily diet protect the person against depression, and low amounts of these vitamins increase the severity of the symptoms of depression.
Deficiency of B vitamins can lead to a decrease in happiness chemicals and cause a feeling of unhappiness that can lead to mental health problems in the long term. Increased B vitamins in the diet can increase the chemicals in the brain that increase happiness.
5) Prebiotics and Probiotics
Trillions of bacteria live in our gut, affecting our behavior and brain health. Chemical messages produced in our intestines; It affects our emotions, appetite, and how we respond to stressful conditions.
Prebiotics and probiotics found in fermented foods such as yogurt and cheese work in the brain in the same way antidepressant medications work. Studies on this topic have shown that they can have similar effects to antidepressants. It has been observed that prebiotics and probiotics suppress immune system reactions in the body, reduce inflammation in the brain, reduce depression and increase the feeling of happiness.
Including the foods in the five groups mentioned is not only beneficial for our physical health, but also has beneficial effects on mental health and reduces the risk of depression and anxiety disorders.