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Healthy food equals better mental health, new research shows

An ice cream bowl perhaps isn’t the best way to stop feeling blue… A bowl of fruits sounds more like it

The past two weeks, I’ve been feeling like the weight on my shoulders have increased five fold, and no matter what I did to improve my mood, I kept feeling like hell, lacked motivation, lacked inspiration and nothing seemed to cheer me up, not for more than a minute or two anyways.

What I did mostly was diving into bowls of fro-yo and cheesy pizza, and pigging out in my living room. And guess what, once the bowl and the box were empty, I felt no different at all. Was I depressed? Feeling down or anxious? Yes, perhaps, or just found myself in the bottom of a valley miserable, and couldn’t seem to climb out. Until three days ago, when I started to ditch the pizza, drive right past the frozen yoghurt shop and get back into making smart choices.

I’ve noticed before that upgrading my diet and making better decisions with food would boost my mood, energy and focus. I’ve just had a hard time committing lately.

But it was time to stop feeling sorry for myself, climb out of bowls of junk and let food lift me up as oppose to weighing me down (literally).

It’s been three days, and it’s working. Dahh… It worked before, so why wouldn’t it now?!

And, a research published in Psychosomatic Medicine earlier this month backs up my experience. Researchers at the University of Manchester and at NICM Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University conducted a systematic data analysis from almost 46,000 people and found that weight loss, nutrient boosting and fat reduction diets can reduce the symptoms of depression and improve mental health.

So often many of us blindly attack the candy and cookie isles in the store, shoving everything sweet into our cart that we hope will make us feel better. But do they? Temporarily, sure. Until they’re all gone. Then you’re back at either wanting more, or looking for the next high of some sort.

The study also pointed out that you don’t have to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety to use food for your advantage.

Dr. Joseph Firth, one of the researchers in the study told Science Daily that it doesn’t even have to be a highly-specific or specialized diet.

“Instead, just making simple changes is equally beneficial for mental health. In particular, eating more nutrient-dense meals which are high in fibre and vegetables, while cutting back on fast-foods and refined sugars appears to be sufficient for avoiding the potentially negative psychological effects of a ‘junk food’ diet,” he said.

Ladies, listen up, because according to the study, we’re even more affected by diet than our fellow lads. More research is needed on this, but data showed significantly greater benefits for women.

To give your mood an even bigger lift, make sure to exercise regularly — and I mean perform some form of physical activity every day. Whether it’s a walk, a hike, HIIT training or dancing, schedule an hour or so and consider it a meeting with yourself for a happier and healthier you.