Only 20% of American adults eat a well-balanced diet, warns the U.S. CDC. However, a recent survey by NPR found that most of us overestimate how good we are at healthy eating, with nearly 8 out of 10 respondents saying they follow a healthy diet. Clearly, there are some misunderstandings about healthy eating and what constitutes a healthy diet. Let’s clear up some of that confusion today, because healthy eating and nutrition are a core pillar of self-care.
Editor’s note: This is part 3 of our 7-part series covering the 7 pillars of self-care. You can read more about the article series in our introductory blog post. The previous pillars discussed the importance of mental health and mental wellness and how exercise is a valuable form of self-care.
The Link Between Nutrition and Mental Health
Eating a balanced, nutritious diet is important for physical health, but did you know that it can also have a major impact on your mental health? For centuries, people have believed that what we eat can affect our mood and behavior. In recent years, scientific research has confirmed this connection. Let’s take a closer look at the link between nutrition and mental health.
The Impact of Poor Nutrition
Poor nutrition can take its toll on your mental health in several ways. First of all, inadequate nutrition can cause you to become tired and unfocused more easily than normal. This lack of energy can lead to feelings of stress and depression over time. Additionally, if your diet lacks essential vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins, magnesium, or omega-3 fatty acids, you may be more prone to anxiety or mood swings.
Nutrition for Better Mental Health
Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to improve your nutritional intake for better mental health. Eating a balanced diet is key – this means including plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as lean proteins in your meals every day. It’s also important to get enough healthy fats from foods like avocados and nuts since these are essential for brain function. Additionally, cutting back on sugar is always recommended since sugar consumption has been linked to depression.
Finally, supplementing with vitamins and minerals (and immune boosters like BioPro-Plus 500) may help fill any nutritional gaps in your diet – especially if you have difficulty getting certain nutrients from food alone because of dietary restrictions or allergies. However, before taking any supplements it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional first.
What is a Healthy Diet?
Each of these food groups contributes to your overall health and wellness in their own way.
For example, fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals that are crucial for proper bodily functions. Carbohydrates provide energy for daily activities while proteins form the building blocks for muscles and other tissues. Fats are necessary for brain development as well as providing energy and aiding in the absorption of certain vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E and K; however, it’s important to avoid trans-fats.
Easy Ways to Incorporate Healthy Foods Into Your Diet
Eating healthier doesn’t have to mean sacrificing flavor or convenience! There are many ways to incorporate healthier options into your everyday meals:
- Switch out white bread for whole wheat bread
- Add fresh fruit and nuts to breakfast cereal
- Include more plant-based proteins like beans or tofu into your meals instead of relying only on animal proteins (this not only provides great sources of protein but also increases your intake of fiber)
- Follow easy, wholesome recipes incorporating proven ingredients that boost your health and wellness (get started with Alternative Health Concept’s weekly meal guides!)