Don’t forget that your overall health isn’t just the shape your body is in and the physical symptoms you can tangibly see. Your mental health and brain function form a core part of your holistic health picture and the quality of your life.
First of all, let’s get one thing clear: if you think that you can ignore your mental health and brain function when it comes to assessing your overall well-being, you’re sorely mistaken. Physical health is not a condition that is exclusive to what you can tangibly see and feel within your body. Your brain regulates so many critical functions that directly translate into physical wellness; and even besides that, mental health itself cannot be discounted when looking at a holistic picture of your healthiness.
It should come as no surprise, then, that what you eat has a direct effect on both your physical and mental state. Think of it this way: your brain functions in a way that is best described as metabolic. In other words, it uses fuel to run. When there is a lack of fuel, or if the fuel is low quality, your brain’s function will suffer as a result. This might have effects ranging from simple lethargy and irritability, to actual identifiable impact on your mental health itself.
Continuing along that logic, there is very interesting research emerging over the last several years that suggest a healthy diet can directly mitigate depression and anxiety in an otherwise healthy person. The neurotransmitters in your brain — the basic “building blocks” — rely on, and are essentially created from, the fuel that you provide your body. Think of it this way: if you build your house out of the cheapest matierials and cut corners constantly, you might save a bunch of time and money on construction. But down the road, those choices will come back to haunt you. Problems will begin to spring up everywhere, and you’ll end up paying more than if you had just done it properly the first time.
The food you put in your body acts in just the same way. When you eat fast food constantly, sure, you will technically be able to stay alive on that sustenance, but how much damage are you doing to your physical and mental capacity? On the other hand, if you feed yourself a Mediterranean diet full of delicious, healthy items like nuts, seeds, fruits and veggies, clean protein, and healthy fats, studies show a potential natural pathway to minimize or eliminate depression.
In short, it seems as though that positive rush you get after eating clean and healthy might not just be a placebo effect or a result of being happy that you ate well. A good diet might actually be contributing to a good, healthy, clean mental state as well.