Food and what you consume is important to help your body and your mind.
There’s actually a lot more connection between your mind and wellbeing than you might have first thought. There has been a lot of research into how your gut health can have a significant impact on your mental health.
When we are considering self-development and self-improvement, one way we can improve our life is by paying closer attention to the food we eat has a big impact on our life as a whole.
Let’s discuss why food is important, how it can impact your life and look at different food types to fuel your body and mind in detail and how you can incorporate them into your everyday diet.
It is important to remember that not all foods will have the same impact on different people so you should use this information to guide your own experimentation with your own body.
All people and bodies are different and they don’t work the same so the main message here is to find what works best for you and your body.
5 Food Types to Fuel Your Body and Mind
How much energy you have is important because it directly impacts your ability to carry out your day to day tasks. If you are working on self-development it is important to have enough energy to become the best version of yourself.
Sugar is known to give you a peak in energy but is quickly followed by a slump. You’ve heard of the sugar rush, kids have it all the time.
While it might seem like a good idea to reach for a sugary snack, you might find yourself feeling deflated and tried not too long after. This feeling can also result in a lack of motivation which is not what you need when you are working on self-improvement.
Artificially added sugars and processed foods are the worst culprits for this. Try to opt for more naturally rich sugar foods like fruits which also provide a whole host of other benefits.
Caffeine might seem like the best choice when you need a boost of energy, but again like sugar, this is often followed by a crash. Too much caffeine can have dire effects on the body and mind such as increased stress and anxiety, not to mention demotivation.
If you’re an avid coffee drinker and notice yourself feeling particularly anxious or worried, have a think about how much coffee you’ve drunk and you might see a correlation.
Energy drinks are also the worst for this. Alcohol is another agent that can cause a significant impact on your energy levels. It can cause you to have a slump in energy and also cause down moods and anxiety, much like a sugar or caffeine rush.
I’m sure no one has ever felt motivated and at their best during a hangover, so this is something you should try to avoid or limit if you are trying to reach certain goals.
Complex carbohydrates are very important for providing sustained energy. Foods rich in nutrients like vegetables are a great source of fuel for the body providing slow-releasing energy throughout the day. They don’t tell us to eat our five a day for nothing.
Vegetables are great as a source of energy but also provide a number of other benefits. To help with your energy levels, choose foods to keep you energised throughout the day, rather than a quick energy boost which can have the opposite effect soon after.
Pack veggies into your meals to help integrate this into your diet. Vitamin B is another important addition to the diet to help with energy production. Green foods like broccoli and spinach, as well as dairy, are often high in vitamin B. Not enough of this vitamin can result in low moods.
When working on self-development, you need to ensure you are fueling your mind and body with the best foods to provide sustained energy to help keep you motivated and energised to reach your goals. In addition to this, you should avoid foods that will give you any sort of energy crash and that could potentially worsen your mood.
2. Brain Food
Different foods can have different effects on our moods and mind. We’ve already seen how some foods can significantly impact our energy levels, which can in turn impact our mood.
You might have heard of brain foods – those foods that help your mind work its best. That’s no lie either. Some foods are significantly proven to have effects on our minds and mental health.
There are a number of foods that can help reduce stress and anxiety. Foods rich in potassium can be helpful for this. Think bananas and pumpkin seeds. Fish and other foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids have also been known to reduce low moods.
Research has shown that diets high in added sugars and processed foods are harmful to the brain, which can in turn increase stress. These foods can result in worsened brain functioning and can contribute to low moods.
As we mentioned earlier, complex carbs are not only great for providing a sustained energy level throughout the day, they also balance blood sugar levels and can help you feel more balanced in your mood. These include foods such as whole-grain bread and pasta.
Food can help increase the levels of serotonin in the brain. Vitamin D has been seen to increase serotonin levels, you can find it in eggs, fish and yoghurt. You can see that food has a massive impact on your brain activity.
Some foods can make you feel less stressed and anxious but others can cause this. Use these tips in your own diet to see what works best for you.
3. Stress Less
Following on from brain food and nutrients which can help your mind, let’s look at the foods which can help you reduce stress.
Selenium is an important mineral and antioxidant to help with the functioning of the mind and body. A small amount of selenium in your diet can have a big contribution to reducing your stress levels. Grains, nuts, seeds and legumes are a great way to get selenium into your diet.
Vitamin C and magnesium are also great sources of nutrients that can reduce stress. Vitamin C can be found in oranges and you can find magnesium in spinach or other leafy greens as well as salmon and soybeans.
Magnesium has also been known to reduce headaches. Vitamin E and B also are known to help with antioxidants and improve your immune system which can help prevent and fight off stress.
Having food that can promote serotonin production can also help you have a better night’s sleep. It is important to preface this by noting that you should allow enough time to fully digest before sleeping so a light snack is advisable.
Something with carbs such as oatmeal can be a great choice here, this is a way to relax and calm down in the evening. A warm glass of milk has been known to have similar calming effects and reduce anxiety.
Other warm cosy drinks like green or chamomile tea also have relaxing effects. Turmeric is another option that can be put into tea before sleeping as this contains curcumin which reduces inflammation and stress.
4. Gut health
The health of your gut has a massive impact on your overall health and mental wellbeing. You may not realise how interconnected your mind and body really is. Your gut produces 95% of serotonin.
This is where hundreds of nerve endings are located in your gut which helps you to digest your food but also shapes the way you feel, your moods and emotions. That scientifically shows that your gut can have a big impact on a good or bad mood.
Hormones from the gut send signals to the brain, so whatever is going on down there is intrinsically linked up there.
Bringing this and other fermented food into your diets, such as cheese and kimchi, can aid healthy digestion and reduce stress and anxiety, resulting in overall better moods.
Sometimes it can be difficult to find the right foods and get all the right vitamins your body needs.
In the winter you might have a harder time getting as much vitamin D as you need to help boost your mood. There are many different supplements on the market so you can find something that is right for you.
You can take daily mixed vitamins you can take, or there are specific supplements, a popular example is a magnesium. You can also take probiotics to help with digestion if that’s something you need help with.
Whatever you think you might need, it is important to thoroughly research and understand what it is you are taking and why you are taking it.
This might be a good time to reach out to a doctor or nutritionist if you believe there is somewhere you could improve using supplements that you might be struggling to get enough of through food.
How to Incorporate these Foods into Your Routine
Once you’ve learned about all of these foods and how they can help you, it can be overwhelming to actually add them to your diet.
This is a change that you should be making for the long term health of your body so you should intend to have changes that will make an impact and be sustained over the long term. You should start with small changes and make them slowly so you can adapt more easily.
Try adding or taking away something from your diet in the first instance. Start small and go slowly. You can swap things out like animal milk to dairy-free options or switch coffee to decaf.
It is up to you what you want to change but the most important thing is to listen to your body and how it reacts to different foods. Everyone’s body is different so what works for one person may not work for another.
Hopefully, we have taught you why it is important to eat food to not only fuel your body but also improve your mind and mental health. Eating foods that are better for your mind and body can improve your mood, motivation and energy, helping you reach your self-improvement goals.
There are lots of different examples of how you can improve your nutrition and different foods which can support this. Take time to experiment and find what works best for you and your needs.