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Self-Care Series Part 5: Eat Nutritiously

By Rachel Parodneck, LMSW

The foods we eat fuel both our minds and bodies. In taking care of yourself, it is incredibly important to break away from the “diet” mentality and focus on foods you enjoy that provide you with nutrition.

When we don’t eat in a nutritious way, we are unable to perform at our peak potential, let alone feel like our best selves. Eating a highly processed diet can be harmful to not only our body, but our mental health too. Harvard Medical School has found that multiple studies show 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.

 

Healthline published an article listing the 7 worst foods for your brain. They are as follows:

 

1– Sugary Drinks

2– Refined Carbs

3– Foods High in Trans Fats

4– Highly Processed Foods

5– Aspartame (artificial sweetener)

6– Alcohol

7– Fish High in Mercury

 

For more details, you can access the article here: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/worst-foods-for-your-brain#TOC_TITLE_HDR_8

Eating foods that nourish our bodies is essential to maintain good brain health and physical health. Harvard Medical School published an article called “Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain on Food.” In this article, Dr. Selhub writes, Studies have compared “traditional” diets, like the Mediterranean diet and the traditional Japanese diet, to a typical “Western” diet and have shown that the risk of depression is 25% to 35% lower in those who eat a traditional diet. Scientists account for this difference because these traditional diets tend to be high in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, and fish and seafood, and to contain only modest amounts of lean meats and dairy. They are also void of processed and refined foods and sugars, which are staples of the “Western” dietary pattern.

In an article titled: Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain on Food, nutritionists emphasize that the most important strategy is to follow a healthy dietary pattern that includes a lot of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Try to get protein from plant sources and fish and choose healthy fats, such as olive oil or canola, rather than saturated fats. Incorporating many of these foods into a healthy diet on a regular basis can improve the health of your brain, which could translate into better mental function.

Refresh’s very own Lana Lorenzo, LMSW, knows a thing or two about how nutrition can influence and impact individuals’ health, both mental and physical.

“Having come to practice psychotherapy with a background in nutrition science, I take a multidisciplinary lens in partnership with various disciplines to continue to bridge understanding and support the practice of awareness and appreciation of what it means to cultivate wellbeing and enjoy a more fulfilling quality of life. We want to be able to maximize support of the body to help mitigate inflammation and stress and support physical, emotional and spiritual vitality.” 

When self-care is prioritized, in particular, nutrition, you can expect to see a host of health benefits you may never have thought you needed.

 

References:

Author Unknown, (Undated). Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School. Food Linked to Better Brain Power. Retrieved from:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/foods-linked-to-better-brainpower

Mandl, E. (January 28, 2018). Healthline. The 7 Worst Foods For Your Brain. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/worst-foods-for-your-brain

Selhub, E. (November 16, 2015). Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School. Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain on Food. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626