IMPROVING OUR WINTER WELLNESS
Anything which has to be on 24 hours a day, needs a good quality, reliable power source.
Our brains are no exception.
What we eat directly affects the structure and function of our brain and, ultimately, our mood Harvard University has found.
Our brains are responsible for all our bodily functions, from our moods, to healing and digestion.
It comes as little surprise that our brains make up 20% of our daily energy intake.
Which is directly influenced by how well we sleep, hydrate, and look after our mental health.
With the right nutrients, we have the energy to do the things we want, instead of battling inflammation.
Discover how you can improve your wellness this winter…
Understanding healthy balance
It’s essential to eat to keep warm in winter. However, what we eat has different impacts on our digestive system.
The delicate balance of bacteria in your gut aids digestion, absorbs nutrients and bolsters your immune system.
What we eat can also prompt inflammation, which is how our bodies respond to injury or infection.
Some of the side effects of poor nutrition include, but aren’t limited to:
- Tiredness and poor concentration
- Reduced immune system function
- Iron deficiency
- Nutrient deficiencies – e.g., folate, zinc, magnesium, and vitamins
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- Weight gain
- Some cancers
Multiple studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function — and even a worsening of symptoms of mood disorders, such as depression, according to Harvard.
Our psychological relationship with food
Furthermore, an intense diet culture, a difficult relationship or a perception of food can also lead to body image issues and disordered eating behaviours such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating.
Sometimes people can exhibit extreme behaviours when it comes to eating healthy that are more subtle, such as orthorexia.
Eating Disorders Victoria describes orthorexia as a mental illness and eating disorder.
It can manifest as strong anxiety about food choices (positive and negative), with a person’s self-esteem closely linked to how healthily they eat.
Nourishing our mood
If we’re not eating well, it’s likely we’re not feeling well mentally or physically.
This can impact all areas of our lives, particularly mood regulation.
Along with making healthy choices where we can, good sleep hygiene, regular exercise and not smoking can alleviate chronic inflammation throughout our bodies.
To give your gut health a boost, particularly after a round of antibiotics, probiotic and prebiotic foods can replenish your gut with good bacteria.
Trifecta Nutrition recommends naturally fermented products such as yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut along with wholegrain breads and cereals, fruit, vegetables, legumes, lentils, nuts and seeds.
A delicious boost
Eating healthy supercharges our ability to deal with stress, makes us more resilient and can assist with improving our sleep.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare recommends we consume:
- Plenty of vegetables – eat as many coloured varieties as you can, including different types and colours and legumes/beans.
- Fruit – eating a variety of fruit will give you a greater variety of immune boosting antioxidants.
- Grains – wholegrain or high fibre variations of breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley.
- Lean meats and protein alternatives – including poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds and legumes/beans.
- Dairy – such as milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives, mostly reduced fat (except for children under two years of age).
- Drink plenty of water.
A healthy diet is known to improve your mental and physical health.
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- Mental health including anxiety and depression – Dietitians Australia
- Food and mood: is there a connection? – Harvard University
- 11 ways to eat healthy on a super tight budget – The Healthy
- Nutrition and mental health – Beyond Blue
- Helpline – Butterfly Foundation
- What are eating disorders – InsideOut Institute
- The relationship between food and mental health – Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association