Dr. Anna Jetton
How Diet Can Affect Mood, Cognition and Sleep
Most of us are aware that what we eat can affect our waistline. But did you know that the foods you eat can also impact your brain, which means they can affect your mood, cognition, and sleep? Think of Your Brain Like an Expensive Car
Cars need fuel to operate. Some cars do fine no matter what type of gas you put in the tank. But expensive cars typically only do well when you fill the tank with premium gas. Your brain is like an expensive car. You can try and feed it what YOU want and what YOU think is delicious, but it probably won’t operate optimally. In fact, your brain can actually become damaged if you feed it the wrong foods. For example, many processed and refined foods are harmful to your brain, causing inflammation and toxic overload. Diets high in refined carbohydrates not only promote inflammation but also oxidative stress and worsen your body’s regulation of insulin. All of this damage affects how your brain operates. That means when you eat poorly, you increase the risk of developing a mood disorder such as depression and anxiety, a cognitive impairment (making it hard to think clearly or remember information), and sleep issues. And then it becomes a vicious cycle, because once our sleep takes a hit and our mood takes a hit and we can’t focus well, we intuitively want to reach for comfort foods that are usually unhealthy, and the cycle starts all over. Making Lifestyle Changes Your Brain Will Thank You For Life is easier and just feels better when our brains are working for us, not against us. With that in mind, here are some lifestyle choices you can make that will keep your brain working optimally: Skip the Soft Drinks One of the easiest changes you can make is to stop drinking soda, even sugar-free sodas, which can still impact your insulin levels. Opt for water instead. Eat Plenty of Healthy Fats Your brain is 60% fat. It needs fat to thrive. But not all fats are created equally. Stay away from trans fats. These are fats made in a laboratory and are found in processed foods. Seed oils, vegetable oils – these are bad fats! Healthy fats are those from grass-fed or pastured animals as well as nuts and avocados! Take Care of Your Gut Your gut health directly impacts the health of the rest of your body, including your brain. To be healthy, your gut needs a lot of good bacteria – AKA probiotics. So be sure to eat foods rich in probiotics. This can include sauerkraut, kimchi, Greek yogurt, kefir, and any fermented veggies you like! Your brain does an awful lot for you. Isn’t it time you start paying more attention to what it needs? Eat right and you will experience a big change in your mood, how you think and how your sleep!