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Which foods are supporting your mental health (hint: blood sugar)?

Food is more than calories, macro- and micronutrients. Food is information and besides our knowledge about certain ingredients and their nutritional value, science and research is (finally!) more than ever pushing the studies on women and nutrition and the effect it has on our hormone balance and mental health.


The definition of health therefore doesn't only imply physical but also mental and emotional well-being which are a crucial aspect of the concept of holistic health. However, diet plays an equally essential role in regulating our mental health and is most often overlooked.

Our diet has a profound impact on our mental health, our emotions and our ability to manage stress, anxiety and depression. The food choices we make can help calm our minds, strengthen our ability to cope with stress, regulate our nervous system and even promote better quality sleep.

“The food we eat not only acts as fuel for our body, but also influences our cognition, mood and behaviors. »

We are what we eat, and it's never too late to make necessary dietary changes that can have a significant impact on our mental health. Today I will explain in detail the importance of a specific diet for women and provide a clear understanding of how food choices can influence our mental health.



Can you guess what all these ingredients have in common?

Exactly - they are LOW SUGAR!

A growing body of evidence suggests a relationship between mood and blood-sugar highs and lows. Symptoms of poor glycemic regulation have been shown to closely mirror mental health symptoms, such as irritability, anxiety, and worry. This should come as no surprise, as the brain runs primarily on glucose.


Healthy individuals consuming a diet high in refined carbohydrates and added sugars may experience a sudden surge in their blood sugar, followed by an exaggerated insulin response, leading to acute hypoglycemia. Studies found positive associations between high sugar consumption and common mental disorders, concluding that sugar intake from sweet foods and beverages has an adverse effect on long-term psychological health. Individuals with recurrent mental health symptoms may choose to rule out alternative causes before jumping into mental health treatment or interventions. Several lifestyle principles can help stabilize blood sugar: 


Even though glucose (found in starches and sugars) is our body's main energy source, if we eat too much of it during a meal, our body releases insulin to get rid of the excess. So instead of the newly digested glucose molecules staying around in our system to be used for fuel, they get stored away – as glycogen or fat. 

​I have personally experienced a big change in my mental health and emotional stability when I cut out all sugars (including fruits) for 3 weeks. I know, this sounds "extreme" and it also is but only if you consider what most of us eat as "normal". And this is where I recommend everyone to pause and reflect in order to challenge the status quo. We are used to a lot of daily rituals especially what, where and when we eat but how many times have we tried the complete (extreme) other direction just to see how it makes us feel!

Find below some food and meal inspiration!



Research has also highlighted the crucial role of probiotics in mental health. These beneficial bacteria that reside in our gut can influence mood and behavior. Studies have shown that people who regularly consume foods rich in probiotics, such as yogurt, fermented foods, and aged cheeses, have fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety. So it is important to include these foods in our daily diet and also supplement probitotics if necessary - I buy mine from Sunday Natural

Science also shows us that, while a sweet and starchy breakfast gives us pleasure (it releases dopamine in our brain), it is not the best way to give us energy. A sweet and starchy breakfast leads to a glucose spike, which hurts our body’s ability to make energy efficiently, makes us tired, and kicks off all kinds of side effects. Therefore, foods to avoid in the morning: granola with oat milk, porridge, bread with jam or sweet nut butter, fruit smoothie, pancakes and... Coffee / Matcha Latte with oat milk and honey or agave


Better: homemade almond milk (fat) mixed with soy milk (protein) and 1/2 date (minimal carbohydrates)

As a result, at equal calories, a breakfast that keeps our glucose levels steady leads to more circulating energy than one that creates a glucose spike.The best way to have steady energy is to switch to a savoury breakfast, avoiding the crash we usually get a couple of hours later. 

I think by now everyone has heard of Glucose Goddess and although I don't follow any of her advice religiously, it's such a great education for us to understand the importance of a steady blood sugar level and how we can avoid massive fluctuations - not just to avoid diabetes or weight gain but to keep our hormones in check and even more important - balance our mood and mental health through simple nutrition hacks.





SAVOURY BREAKFAST IDEAS


  • Whole wheat flat bread with cream cheese, topped with avocado, tomato and a fried egg -> find the recipe of my 5 min homemade flatbread here

  • A can of mackerel in olive oil, a few roasted almonds and olives with crackers

  • An apple with walnuts and slices of cheddar cheese

  • A piece of fruit with nutbutter

  • Greek yogurt with berries or sliced fruit, a drizzle of tahini or almond butter, cinnamon

  • Half an avocado with three tablespoons of hummus, crackers

  • Slices of smoked salmon, avocado, and cucumber on cracker or sandwich bread

  • Toast with mashed avocado, fried egg, flax seed oil and hemp seeds

  • Tomato and mozzarella with a drizzle of olive oil

  • A tortilla filled with mashed black beans, tomato and chopped avocado

  • Pan-fried halloumi cheese, tomatoes, arugula on toast

  • 3 scrambled eggs with spinach topped with kimchi and avocado

  • My favourite hippie breakfast: greek coconut yoghurt, (frozen) wild blueberries, half a banana, cacao nibs, hemps seeds, bee pollen, wheatgrass powder, coconut flakes, macadamia nuts, pinch of flakey sea salt

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