Initially, it might seem like the brain and the digestive system could not possibly be that closely related. Actually, there is a growing body of research regarding the mind-gut connection. The bottom line is this: Scientists have determined that what is in your gut can have a direct impact on the state of your mind; good, careful nutrition is vital for strong mental health, and those looking to improve their mental and emotional wellness might start by improving their diet.
How exactly does nutrition affect mental health? Consider some of the evidence:
- According to science, that old expression you are what you eat is actually true! Good nutrition is crucial for brain development, helping to create the brain tissue and other building blocks of our physical minds.
- Certain nutrients can also be linked to brain growth—while science shows that a diet high on refined sugars and saturated fats can actually inhibit the growth of new brain cells!
- Finally, good nutrition fills the gut with healthy bacteria—bacteria that kill off dangerous germs, stave off inflammation, and keep the immune system in check. All of that keeps the brain well-protected!
With all of that said, it begs the question: What kind of diet is best for good mental health? The short answer: Seek real nutrients, which means fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins—not processed foods or refined sugars. High-fat and high-sugar diets are, in particular, known for being bad for the gut. That makes them bad for the brain, too! Some nutrients that are especially vital for good mind-and-gut health include B vitamins, iron, zinc, and omega-3s.
Remember: You really are what you eat, and as such you want to eat for brain development. It’s one of the surest and easiest things you can do for your mental health.
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