It is alarming to see people consuming junk food like it were their normal diet. Consuming junk food has many ill-effects on the body. Let us see how it affects our brain and eventually hampers the mental health.

What is Mental Health?

Mental health consists of the emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It influences how we think, feel, and act. It also helps to determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.
Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Having a healthy mental health is paramount to life.

What is the association between food and mental health?

Association between food and mental health

Food is the source of power for your brain as well as your body and has a direct relationship to mental and emotional health.
Reduced learning, low memory, illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease may result from an unhealthy diet rich in saturated and trans-fat.
On the contrary, a reduced-calorie diet which includes a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables and sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as walnuts and fish which can help to achieve a stable emotional, psychological and social well-being.

What does Research Say?

  • A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2011 demonstrated that healthy people who ate junk food for only 5 days performed poorly on cognitive tests.
  • Cognitive tests measure attention, speed, and mood.
  • The study concluded that eating junk food for just five days regularly can deteriorate your memory.
  • This is because junk food which consists of a poor or toxic diet can cause certain chemical reactions that lead to inflammation in the hippocampus area of the brain which is associated with memory and special recognition.
  • Diets that are high in sugar and fat can cut off the activity of a brain peptide called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) that helps with learning and memory formation.
  • Moreover, the brain contains synapses which are responsible for learning and memory.
  • Eating too many calories can interfere with the healthy production and functioning of these synapses.

What should be done?

In order to have a good mental health, one should try to maintain a balanced diet consisting of complex carbohydrates, moderate protein and less fat. In addition to that, fruits and vegetables should be an integral part of the diet.