What is the mind-by connection?

The mind-body connection can be seen in many ways. For instance, the more junk food you eat, the less full you will feel due to the lack of fibre. This will ultimately affect your mood. This is backed up by research as studies show that a nutrient-rich diet high in fibre, vegetables and fruit is linked with reduced stress and anxiety. Furthermore, stressful life events can lead to a weakened immune system, weight loss or gain and tension headaches. The physical manifestation of stress on the body is why it’s so important to have methods to cope with stress and why it’s so important to understand the deep connection between our minds and our bodies. Diet and exercise are two lifestyle elements that affect our mental health and overall wellbeing.

We can improve our overall wellbeing by incorporating exercise into our daily routine, as exercise is a great way to improve your mood. When we exercise, our brains release endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that help us to relax and feel happy. Regular exercise can even help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression, as having a daily exercise regimen provides purpose and structure to the day. Plus, exercising outdoors can provide a much-needed mood booster, as exposure to sunlight positively affects the pineal gland. The more light we are exposed to during the day, the more our pineal gland releases melatonin, which helps us to sleep better.

Extensive research show that nutrition plays a role in the prevention, development and management of diagnosed mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety disorder, dementia, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and dementia. Depression and anxiety arises when neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, are reduced in the brain. These neurotransmitters are controlled by the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO) and people who are depressed or have anxiety have increased levels of this enzyme.

Studies show that plant-based foods are rich in phytonutrients (chemicals produced by plants) have antioxidant properties which appear to block MAOs, which help to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Research shows that the more phytonutrients we in. Specifically, dark, leafy greens and fruits and veggies with bright colours are rich in antioxidants. Incorporate kale, spinach, beets, broccoli and lots of colour into your diet as often as possible to reduce the risk of depression and anxiety.

Types of phytonutrients:

  • Carotenoids: These are found in red, orange and red foods (e.g. beetroot, carrots, tomato, pumpkin, sweet potato, bell peppers, etc.), spinach and broccoli.
  • Ellagic Acid: These are found in berries and other plant-based foods such as strawberries, pomegranate, grapes, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.
  • Flavonoids: All berries contain flavonoids, onion, kale, dark chocolate, tea, red wine, etc. Resveratrol: grapes, red wine, blueberries, cranberries, etc.
  • Glucosinolates: These are found in cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, radish, etc.
  • Phytoestrogens: includes soy beans, tofu, tempeh, soy beverages, linseed (flax), sesame seeds, wheat, berries, oats, barley, dried beans, lentils, rice, etc.
  • Lycopene: These are found in red or pink plant-food such as tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit.

Furthermore, what we eat may not only influence present health, but may determine whether or not an individual will develop such diseases as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Research has found that plant-based foods are higher in fibre, minerals and vitamins. They are also lower in cholesterol and contain less saturated fat than a meat based diet, which reduces the risk of many physical health conditions. 

How do I have a healthy and balanced lifestyle?

  • At least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables (fresh, tinned, frozen, or dried) High fibre starchy foods such as oats, sweet potato, wholemeal bread, wholemeal pasta and brown rice
  • Protein-rich foods such as beans, lentils, chickpeas and tofu Nuts and seeds Calcium rich foods such as calcium-fortified plant milk and calcium-set tofu Ensure that your diet contains added vitamin B12, such as nutritional yeast flakes (or use supplements)
  • Season food with herbs and spices instead of using salt Drink around 2 litres of water a day (8 glasses) Aim to be physically active every day. It is recommended for people to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week