The most common phrase you’ll hear about food and your lifestyle is ‘you are what you eat’ but how true is this? Does what you eat have an effect on your psychological behaviour? Your body is of course much more complex than you give it credit for and to keep it running you need to provide it with a mixture of nutrients from carbohydrates to vitamins and minerals. The choices you make with food can have a considerable impact on how you think, feel and act.
Vegetarians Exercise More Frequently
A recent study released this week from the University of California looked into the lifestyles and life expectancies of those who classified themselves as vegetarians compared to non-vegetarians. As well as finding vegetarians tend to live long, they also found them to be generally older, more educated and interestingly more inclined to exercise regularly. Fruit and vegetable based diets therefore can be closely linked to a healthy lifestyle as individuals who choose to life a vegetarian lifestyle are more likely to partake in regular exercise.
This is one specific case whilst below we’re looking at the more general effects of your food intake on your psychological behaviour.
Macronutrients are the types of nutrient that provide your both with energy in the form of calories. Regularly if you’re tired or fatigued you’re more likely to experience negative feelings and therefore be less likely to exercise. The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that obesity and increased dietary fat intake in turn resulted in increased instances of daytime fatigue. Fatigue is a common feature of the lifestyles of people who choose a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet and this kind of diet also makes it very unlikely that you’ll feel motivated to exercise.
Micronutrients cover vitamins and minerals and evidence has shown that deficiencies in certain ones can impact upon the functioning of your central nervous system. Deficiencies in folates, B-12 and B-6 are commonly known to affect your central nervous system. Omega-3 Fatty Acids also affect is significantly and deficiencies affecting your central nervous system can lead to long-term depression. In turn depression leads to lowered motivation and therefore impacts heavily on your desire to exercise and live healthily.
Once again it’s been asserted that vegetarian diets have been linked to more healthy moods. This is possibly due to an overall increase in polyunsaturated fats in the diet of vegetarians although more research needs to be conducted in this area to confirm it.
Your diet has a huge impact on brain function. American researchers from Wolfson College assert this further and suggest the Mediterranean Diet which is high in fish and plant-based foods can reduce the risk of cognitive impairments in later life which could eventually advance into conditions including Alzheimer’s disease. Cognitive function is highly dependent on energy balance which is the balance between the amount of calories eaten with the amount burned through exercise. Deficiencies in trace elements such as copper and zinc can also have a significant impact on mental health.
On a related note it’s known for certain that exercise, even at a low impact level, can have a positive impact on mental health and with the right diet in place the next step is to begin exercising to improve your overall mental and physical health.
Finding the motivation to exercise and live a healthy lifestyle is hard if your diet is going in the wrong direction. To ensure you’re treating your body with respect and are at your mental and physical best eat a well-balanced diet which includes fish, fruit and vegetables. Alternatively, consider a vegetarian diet due to the latest research.