Effect of Healthy Food on the Mind and Body

Does food really affect your mood and can eating healthy and exercising daily contribute to a healthy mental state? Could eating high fatty food, sugary or high carbohydrate meals be the reason so many Americans are depressed, unhealthy, and overweight? Do Americans have the ability to control common disease complications through proper diet and exercise? Healthy foods like lean meats , fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can give energy and improve individuals health and mood; while eating unhealthy foods can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and numerous other health problems. Radha Chitale (2008) states “food really does have a lot of power. Use it properly and have a well balanced diet and you can really improve your mood” and physical well being.

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First consider the human body and the things it needs to function and thrive. The energy the body needs serves both our physical and mental state. The brain regulates disposition and alertness. Everything that is consumed in to the body has a chemical effect on the brain, our center of life. For example, some foods are aphrodisiacs while others are medicinal. Foods such as chocolate and oysters are said to release a chemical into the brain which heightens sexual stimulation. Nutrients found naturally in food break down and become absorbed to aid our bodies medicinally as well. Rosemary a common herb, for example, contains carsonic acid, a compound that signals the brain to defend itself against free radicals. Free radicals are byproducts of natural metabolism that can cause stroke and Alzheimer’s disease finds a study in the Journal of Neurochemistry (Shape, April 2008). Green vegetables can help the body fight lung disease. Folic acid statistically fights against birth defects, stroke, and anemia and is found in fresh foods like spinach, avocados, beans, and peanuts. There is a chemical found in the brain called serotonin. Serotonin, “known as the happiness neurotransmitter” (20/20 Thinking, p.11) regulates aspects of the human mood. By boosting your serotonin levels with a high protein snack, consequently the brain can feel elated. Omega 3, found in salmon and eggs protects brain cells and eases the mind. Adversely, lack of Omega 3 fatty acids is linked to depression (20/20 Thinking, p 33). Consumption of healthy food in appropriate quantities will allow the brain to thrive. On the other hand, “Did you know that eating a piece of cake can make you sad?” (Samantha Heller, 2004) The human mind while enjoying the sugary treats awarded to it, will eventually experience the adverse reaction and have what is called a sugar crash leaving it melancholy. Therefore feeding the brain with healthy foods will transcend into a healthy mental wellbeing.

Additionally the human body needs certain nutrients in order to be physically strong as well. The Food Pyramid illustrated by the United States Department of Agriculture draws out the proper servings the average person needs for the body to be healthy. Many studies have been conducted all over the world on how certain foods provide certain nutrients the body needs to be fit and strong. Fad diets that are increasingly more popular show the negative affect the physical body goes through when a certain food is deprived. Decreasing certain foods rather than omitting them is better for the body. If the body is deprived of carbohydrates for example, it must steal energy from another food product in order for it to supply the physical body with enough energy to function. Over consumption or under consumption of foods will alter that pyramid leaving the body to be physically unhealthy as well. Dairy products like milk lead to strong bones and teeth, while carbohydrates such as bread give the body energy. On the other hand ingestion of high amounts of sugars and processed white grains can spike up your blood sugar, and lead to diabetes, a possibly fatal disease. Eating refined processed foods is harder for your body to digest the needed nutrients, so eating natural foods better serves your physical well being. Keeping healthy also consists of being active. Not only can being active burn calories, it strengthens muscles, tendons, and bones. Maintaining an active lifestyle leads to more confidence as well. The brain interprets signals the individual sends to it and that directly affect our mood. As stated in the American Journal of Public Health, “the less satisfied people were with their size, the more unhealthy they felt” (Shape, June 2008). Exercise combined with eating healthy foods can also improve mood. Getting outside and taking the dog for a walk, or just being out in the fresh air will get the blood flowing and is proven to give more energy. Strength training is also recommended for muscles as well as bones. The more muscle the body has then the more fat will be burned throughout the day and the stronger the bodies bones will become. The more healthy foods eaten and the more physically active Americans are, the more energized and strong we will become.

Eating naturally healthy foods, being active and mentally positive directly increases the human bodies’ ability to be healthy physically. Adversely eating unhealthy foods, being physically lazy, and telling the mind that the body is fat or ugly can cause future health and mental problems. Individuals with certain diseases have to control parts of their disease through regimented diet and exercise. People suffering from Autism need to avoid high gluten snacks as it leads to over stimulation in the brain. Gluten creates a dangerous euphoric high that can lead to dementia. Carbohydrates and sugars are to be avoided by individuals with diabetes. Diabetics, who control their disease through diet, limit or delete breads and sugary desserts to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Diverticulitis is a common condition where pouches are found in the colon and intestinal walls. Eating things such as seeds, popcorn, and corn on the cob can lodge into these pockets and cause inflammation that may lead to surgery. “Most doctors think that diverticulitis is mainly caused by the Western style of diet, which is generally low in fiber, and has a lot of processed and refined food, rather than healthier diets of whole wheat, fruit and vegetables.”(www.Diverticulitis 101.com)Individuals with certain heart conditions are urged to stay away from salt or high sodium foods. The consumption of fatty fried foods can clog arteries and eventually lead to heart attacks. Eating unhealthy can cause future health problems. The United States of America is the fattest nation in the world. One hundred million Americans are overweight or obese. 20.9 million Americans suffer from mood disorders and 14.8 million Americans experience depression according to the National Institutes of Health (Sue Gilbert, 2007).

Living an unhealthy lifestyle is easy to achieve in the contemporary world of fast food, twenty four hour television with over six hundred channels, and electric or gas powered transportation. More people drive automobiles to the corner store or their neighbors house rather than biking or walking. American society is less likely to physically exercise than watch a television show on exercise. The creation of the Wii entertainment game systems were fabricated to curtail the gluttony of children. By marrying a game with physical activity, adolescents are being tricked in to having fun and being active. Physical education programs in schools are a requirement as well. More and more fast food restaurants are offering healthy alternatives to French fries. These small changes are making a positive impact on overweight children. Adults however must commit to a different lifestyle that is more difficult to achieve than new active games and baked apple strips rather than fries.

In conclusion, studies have shown how food and exercise affect our mental, physically fit, and healthy well being. Literature can be found in virtually every magazine that stocks the shelves with at least one article on health and fitness. Whether it be a new nutrient found in a particular food that can negate the symptoms of another disease or a food that increases the beneficial production of some body function, all the information available guides society to a healthier lifestyle through food and exercise. Cable television offers an entire channel on exercise routines. Proper diet and exercise directly leads to a better and longer life as well as a positive mood.