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healthy diet for mental health

Diet and exercise for ideal mental health

Do you find your mental health problems worsening when you’ve been a couch potato all day? Have you found that eating healthier foods makes you feel better about yourself? You may find that sometimes there is a significant link between your diet and mental health.

That’s because without a doubt, diet and mental health are closely intertwined. One can affect the other if they’re not of a healthy quality. This is why it’s important to look after our bodies through good diet and exercise.

The rest of this article will unpack what foods and exercise you should incorporate for better mental health. After all, looking after our mental health is also ensuring we maintain a good diet and levels of exercise.

How food can affect mental health

Do you find that you feel bad about yourself after eating a greasy takeout? You’re not alone! What we eat can affect our hormones and mood. This is because our brains have a close relationship with our gastrointestinal tract

When we consume unhealthy foods like sugar, this can make us feel good for a short amount of time before it plummets. (This is why some of us experience a sugar crash!) 

However, when our diet focuses on less processed foods, this allows for fewer mood fluctuations and a more positive outlook. 

What foods can I incorporate into my diet to elevate my mood?

Whole foods 

Artificial things like preservatives or additives can worsen symptoms of depression. This is why it’s better to eat less processed foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Fibre 

Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are good at absorbing the sugars in our body. This helps prevent sugar rushes and crashes, and so fewer mood swings.

Antioxidants 

From berries to chia seeds, antioxidants pack a punch! By fighting free radicals, they can improve symptoms with depression and anxiety.

Vitamin D 

There’s a reason why we feel happy after getting some sun exposure. It’s because this vitamin helps produce serotonin! Red meat, oily fish, and green vegetables like spinach are good sources. 

How exercise helps mental health

Exercising can do wonders in lifting our mood, relieving stress, and taking care of our overall wellbeing.

Our brain releases feel-good chemicals when we do physical activities, from going for a walk to lifting weights. 

Otherwise known as endorphins, they not only make us feel good. When we get the blood flowing, endorphins can help relieve mental health symptoms.

Plus, the feeling of accomplishment can make you feel better about yourself. Therefore, it’s incredibly useful for our mental health if we move around! 

Benefits of exercise on mental health

  • Increase serotonin in the brain, lessening symptoms of depression
  • Improve appetite and sleep levels 
  • Balance body’s level of stress hormones, like adrenaline

Whether you have depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue, it might be useful to change things with your diet and exercise. 

You can start off small by incorporating more fruits and vegetables or drinking more water. Equally, you can start off with a 15-minute jog, before advancing to something more intense. 

A healthy diet and exercise routine will not only give you a renewed purpose. But by looking after yourself this way, your stress levels and mental health symptoms will drastically get better! Diet and mental health go hand in hand, never underestimate the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.