There is an adage that reads, “You are what you eat”. The saying relates to the effect that food has on our health. It is usually associated with food impacting our physical well being, such as eating salads to stay thin or consuming high protein foods to become muscular. However, there is more to the saying than just the standard takeaway, as food not only shapes our physicality, but it also plays a role in impacting us mentally, by influencing our mood. Let us see how.
A study conducted by scientists from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of Granada, found that eating fast food like doughnuts, cakes, burgers and hotdogs is linked to depression. The study showed that people who consume more fast food are more likely to be single, lead a more sedentary lifestyle, and have poor dietary habits. These people are more susceptible to longer working hours. A culmination of these factors tends to send the person into depression, and a change in diet (adding healthier foods like fruits and nuts) can help in reducing the depression.
The mediterranean cuisine is well known to incorporate a whole lot of plant based foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, and seeds. A plant based diet like this has been linked with better overall mental health, as it reduces the feeling of depression and substitute it with happiness and positivity. Researchers from Spain, Britain and Australia analyzed 41 studies on the link between diet and depression. It was found that people who followed a strict mediterranean diet had a 33% lower risk of suffering from depression
Consuming too little sodium has been associated with agitation and a bad mood. A 2008 issue of Physiology & Behaviour included a study that discussed the link between low sodium and clinical depression. The study suggested that the body might possess an innate addiction for salt, therefore low sodium levels might lead to symptoms similar to drug withdrawal. That’s why low sodium leads to agitation and a bad mood.
A major deficiency, especially in India, is that of vitamin D. Not only does vitamin D play a role in strengthening our bones, it also plays a part in improving our mood. Vitamin D is said to increase the levels of serotonin, which is a key neurotransmitter that influences mood. Therefore a deficiency of vitamin D has been linked with mood disorders. Moreover, research suggests that lack of vitamin D is a risk factor for depression in adults.
There are many ways in which foods influence our mood and behavior. If you feel that you suffer from chronic bad mood or depression, try making changes to your diet by using the aforementioned information. Most research conducted on the relationship between food and mood is at its preliminary stages, and concrete and conclusive evidence is yet to be found. Still if you feel that your problems are not being remedied, think about consulting a doctor.