Happiness, that elusive yet cherished emotion, is influenced by various factors in our lives. While relationships, career, and personal fulfillment all play significant roles, one aspect often underestimated is the profound connection between happiness and our food choices. The saying, “You are what you eat,” may hold more truth than we realize.
The Gut-Brain Connection:
The human body is a complex system, and our gut is no exception. The gut-brain connection, a network of nerves and biochemical signals, allows for constant communication between our digestive system and our brain. This connection isn’t just about digestion; it also influences our emotions and mental well-being.
Studies have shown that the foods we eat can affect the composition of our gut. A balanced and diverse gut microbiome, caused by healthy eating and sufficient water intake can improve mood and overall mental wellness. Whereas, a diet high in processed foods and high sugar can lead to imbalances in the gut potentially causing feelings of anxiety, depression and lethargy.
The Role of Nutrients:
Nutrients are the building blocks of our physical and mental health. Certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish (such as salmon, my favourite!), antioxidants in fruits (blueberries) and vegetables (kale and broccoli), and B vitamins in whole grains, play vital roles in brain function. Consuming a diet rich in these nutrients has been linked to improved cognitive function and a reduced risk of mood disorders.
On the other hand, and similar to the gut, a diet high in processed foods, saturated fats, and sugary snacks has been associated with an increased risk of depression, anxiety and fatigue. Unhealthy foods choices can lead to inflammation in the body, which may impact brain function and exacerbate negative moods.
Mindful eating is a practice that encourages us to pay full attention to our food, savoring each bite, and eating with intention. As my mom always preached: eat slowly, and let your brain process your food. Mindful and slow eating not only fosters a healthier relationship with food but may also enhance our sense of happiness.
While a bowl of ice cream or a slice of pizza do hold its moments of triggering happy hormones, healthy eating habits play a longer-term impact to a happy life. So, the next time you sit down for a meal, remember that your food choices can be a recipe for happiness.
Mindfully curated by Debra Gudema for Well&Co.
📸: Luxiders Magazine