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Why food affects mood (and how healthy nutrition can improve it)

0 8 months ago

We often associate hunger with our stomach.

Yet, what if I told you, it’s your brain that’s hungry?

From the food choices we make, to what we put on our plate, our brain demands the most energy from our food. Dr. Bonnie J. Kaplan explains. She is a pioneer in nutritional psychology who is also a semi-retired professor at the University of Calgary, Cumming School of Medicine.

“The brain is the greediest organ for micronutrients, or the vitamins and minerals from our food. While the brain is two per cent of our body weight, it absorbs 20 per cent of all the nutrients fed to our body.”

But why is this statistic important for us to know?

Because emerging research shows food does affect our mood, for better or worse.

According to evidence-based research in nutritional psychiatry, several nutrition researchers claim there is a correlation between our dietary intake and mental health outcomes.

While books, shows, and articles in the media promote a healthy lifestyle, they mostly preach the same mantra: “eat more healthy, real foods”.

Yet the stark reality is that more than half of what North Americans are putting into their mouths is not real food. Why?

Brain-boosting ingredients in focus at IFT FIRST | Food Business NewsThe unseen answer: the concept of “hidden brain hunger”

More than 50 per cent of us are filling our bellies with ultra-processed ‘foods’, while at the same time, we are also keeping our brains hungry. How?

The concept is called “hidden brain hunger” – a negative consequence that our brain experiences when it becomes deficient in essential micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals.

The brain’s silent starvation becomes more intense when we consistently eat ultra-processed foods high in sugar, salt, and fat. These ‘food-like substances’ lack essential vitamins and minerals optimal for brain health and the absence of these key nutrients impact the brain’s overall performance, especially when in crisis mode.

Dr. Kaplan compares this brain-nutrient phenomenon to pregnancy. “When a woman is pregnant, if she’s not getting enough food, the food preferentially feeds the fetus, moving nutrients and oxygen to where it’s most needed critically, in a crisis.”

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