Why Healthy Eating Boosts Your Mental Health According to Patrick Bieleny
When it comes to maintaining your mental health, there’s never been a more important time to ensure healthy habits — and that includes what’s on your dinner plate, says Patrick Bieleny, a real estate investor and mentor based in Calgary, Alberta.
While keeping your mind healthy includes exercise and unplugging once in a while, what you put into your body has a bigger effect on your mental health than what you might think. There’s growing research that shows not only that diet is linked to depression risk, but also that consuming high-carb, sugary foods can lead to more hyperactivity and behavioural issues in children.
We all turn to take-out and make less-than-healthy food choices here and there, and that’s to be expected, says Patrick Bieleny. But if you’re regularly eating processed and refined foods, you’re promoting inflammation that can be hard on the brain.
More Than a Gut Reaction
Research has also shown that the condition of your gut affects the condition of the brain, adds Patrick Bieleny. Some experts are calling it the “brain-gut connection,” but basically what it comes down to is if your gut biome is out of whack, it can have serious consequences for your mental well-being.
In fact, researchers are saying the gut has a “brain” of its own that they’re calling the enteric nervous system, which could be why you get a “gut feeling” about something. While this nervous system doesn’t have its own conscious thought (that we know of), it does communicate with the brain in your head and cause shifts in moods.
Small Diet Changes Can Make a Big Difference
The good news, says Patrick Bieleny, is that you don’t have to completely revolutionize your diet to improve how it affects your mental health. In another study, subjects with depression were randomly assigned to dieticians who made adjustments such as cutting down on junk food and taking in more fish and produce. At the end of the 12-week study, about 32% of the group that received a dietary intervention achieved remission.
The key is keeping a good balance of gut bacteria, which can include consuming probiotics (found in yogurt) and other fermented products, as well as prebiotics found in a variety of fruits and vegetables that can stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria.
Meanwhile, if you tend to eat a lot of sugar-filled or processed foods, you can lower the amount of this good bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. It can create a vicious cycle as the imbalance caused by the sugar intake can make you crave it even more.
With the stress of the pandemic weighing on us, and being stuck indoors, it can be easy to develop unhealthy eating habits, says Patrick Bieleny. But by limiting junk and pouring in healthy fuel, it can help you stay mentally strong.