Nourish Your Mind and Spirit with Food!
August 24, 2017
Yes, that’s right. You can nourish your mind and spirit with food!
We all know that hunger, cravings and food allergies have a very big impact on our moods and energy levels. Conversely, our moods and emotions influence our food choices. There is a whole branch of science, called nutritional psychiatry, dedicated to studying these connections.
Obviously, your mind functions best when it gets premium fuel. This is why you should eat high-quality foods that are rich in antioxidants and probiotics and low in refined sugar.
To understand just how important it is to consume antioxidant-rich foods, you must first understand what free radicals are.
Free radicals are highly reactive forms of oxygen that are produced in the course of normal metabolic processes. The substances that generate free radicals are readily available in the air we breathe, the water we drink and food we eat.
This means that it is perfectly natural to have free radicals in the body. The problem arises when these free radicals build up and start damaging cells, including brain cells.
Antioxidants are substances that interact with free radicals to disarm them, preventing them from causing cell damage. Therefore, staying away from fried foods, which are a rich source of free radicals, and eating foods rich in anti-oxidants keeps your mind sharp and healthy.
Most antioxidants are found in plant foods. Some vitamins like vitamin C and minerals like zinc act as antioxidants. So foods rich in vitamin C such as oranges and peppers and foods rich in zinc such as nuts are good sources of antioxidants.
Other foods that contain substances that act as antioxidants are egg plant, pumpkin, spinach, grapes, mangoes, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, parsley, leeks, onions, garlic, tomatoes, thyme and oregano. As far as beverages go, tea, coffee and cocoa powder also contain substances that act as antioxidants.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates sleep, appetite and mood. It is produced in the gastrointestinal tract and is greatly influenced by the millions of “good bacteria” in your gut. There are so many neural pathways that travel directly from the gut to the brain that scientists have nicknamed the gut “the second brain.”
Taking probiotics can influence your anxiety levels, change how you perceive stress, and improve your mental outlook. This is why probiotic supplements are so popular.
However, you don’t need to take supplements to improve your gut bacteria. Simply adding fermented foods like pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi, and probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt and kefir to your diet is enough.
Diets that are high in refined sugars are bad for your brain. They not only make it difficult for your body to regulate insulin but also promote the damage of brain cells by free radicals.
Numerous scientific studies have found a connection between a diet high in refined sugar and mood disorders such as depression. So the next time you want to reach for a can of soda, remember that it is not just bad for body; it is also bad for your mind and spirit.