What you eat and how you feel are intimately connected.
This is because physical health and mental health are two sides of the same coin.
It’s why exercise is so good for mental health, and things like meditation benefit physical health.
In fact, the connection between what we eat and our mental wellbeing is more profound than we ever thought possible.
Link between blood sugar and mental health
Not many people realise that your blood sugar levels have a big influence on your mood.
You see, the brain relies heavily on glucose (sugar) as its primary source of energy.
Therefore, fluctuations in blood sugar levels directly impact cognitive function, mood regulation, and overall mental well-being.
When blood sugar levels rise and fall too much and too quickly, brain function can be compromised, leading to symptoms such as confusion, irritability, and brain fog.
Glucose metabolism is closely linked to the production and regulation of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, as well as hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which all play important roles in our mood and mental wellbeing.
Poorly controlled blood sugar levels can also promote inflammation and oxidative stress throughout the body, including the brain, which is linked to various psychiatric disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, and Alzheimer’s.
Insulin resistance is a condition in which cells become less responsive to the effects of insulin due to persistently elevated blood sugar levels.
Basically, when you eat sugar or carbohydrates, your body breaks it down into glucose, which is like the fuel for your cells.
But if you eat too much sugar or carbs, your cells become resistant to insulin, meaning they don't respond as well to it, so glucose can't get into the cells as easily.
As a result, your body has to make more insulin to try to get the job done. But this extra insulin can cause problems because it can lead to higher levels of sugar in your blood, which can lead to health issues like inflammation and diabetes.
And it can have significant implications for mental health.
Insulin resistance is associated with chronic low-grade inflammation throughout the body, including the brain, which can disrupt neurotransmitter function, impair synaptic plasticity, and contribute to mood and cognitive issues.
Insulin resistance is also linked to many physical health problems.
This study found insulin resistance is an important predictor of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, and type 2 diabetes – all common diseases of ageing.
What’s most interesting about this study is that there were no clinical events in the most insulin-sensitive group.
How to control blood sugar levels
Blood sugar levels are influenced by various lifestyle factors. Most notably diet, physical activity, and your sleep pattern.
When your diet is high in refined carbohydrates and sugar, it will lead to rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, which will negatively impact mood and cognitive function.
One way to mediate this is to get regular physical activity and adequate sleep.
However, focusing your diet on natural, nutrient-dense foods that won’t spike your blood sugar is essential for promoting optimal mental health.
Therefore, if you want to stabilise your blood sugar levels and, consequently, your mood, you’d be wise to avoid consuming the following foods regularly…
What to eat for better mental health?
If you want to preserve your mental health, you’d be wise to base your diet around natural, nutrient-dense foods that have been the foundation of the human diet for thousands of years.
The truth about saturated fat and cholesterol
Over recent decades, large food corporations like Kellogs, Nestle and Pepsico have funded scientific studies with the aim of promoting their products rather than finding the truth about how certain foods affect health.
These corporations also leveraged their wealth to influence Government policies and the diet recommendations they provide.
Because of this, most people are very confused about what represents a healthy human diet.
However, over recent years, the combination of independent research and online experimenters are fuelling a growing understanding of what foods actually make us healthy and which foods negatively affect us.
And guess what, it’s not the foods that have been a natural part of the human diet for thousands of years that are ruining our health.
It’s the highly-processed, highly-profitable food-like products that have made corporations like Kellogs, Nestle and Pepsico so much money.
A number of books, articles and research papers have been published on the subject, yet most people still blame saturated fat for the harm that highly-processed, high-profitable food-like products cause.
For example, cholesterol, long vilified by the media and medical community, actually promotes neurogenesis (the birth of new brain cells) and communication between neurons, to the degree that studies have shown that higher levels of serum cholesterol correlates to more robust cognitive health.
The Ketogenic Diet for mental health
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carbohydrate diet that has gained attention for its potential therapeutic effects on various health conditions, including mental health disorders.
The ketogenic diet is designed to significantly reduce carbohydrate intake, which leads to lower and more stable blood sugar levels.
By minimising spikes and crashes in blood sugar, the ketogenic diet helps regulate mood, energy levels, and cognitive function.
Over the course of my life, I’ve spent a lot of time researching health and, in particular, how diet affects health.
I’ve experimented with all types of diets, from raw vegan to carnivore, and everything in between.
However, what I’ve learned is that the most important factor to consider when implementing a healthy diet is stabilising blood sugar levels.
You see, the foods we consume directly impact our blood sugar levels, which has a follow-on effect on neurotransmitter function, inflammation levels, and overall mental health.
Therefore, controlling blood sugar levels through diet, physical activity, and adequate sleep is crucial for promoting optimal mental health.
When it comes to diet, avoiding highly processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and sugary snacks will help stabilise blood sugar levels.
Instead, focusing on natural, nutrient-dense foods such as meat, fish and eggs can provide the foundation for a healthy diet that supports mental well-being.
In essence, by taking control over what we eat and prioritising foods that support stable blood sugar levels, we can optimise our mental well-being and overall health.
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