As a human being, food is essential to survival. It gives us the energy and nutrients to grow and develop, be healthy and active, to move, work, play, think and learn, and according to Food Aid, the body needs a variety of protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, and minerals — from the food we eat to stay healthy and productive.
According to a recent study from Harvard University, the fuel that comes from the food we eat can even have an effect on our brain and ultimately, our mood.
Eva Selhub, a Clinical Associate at Benson Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital said 95 percent of Serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract. Seratonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for helping to regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain. That means your digestive system doesn’t just help you digest food, but also guides your emotions.
Selhub said diets high in refined sugars, for example, are harmful to the brain and can promote inflammation and oxidative stress.
Many people have turned to clean eating diets to not only feel better physically, but emotionally as well.
Sarah VanSoest, Store Manager at Aldo said she tried the Whole 30 diet and never felt better.
“It’s really hard to have a clean diet with all the processed food that’s out there, but doing the Whole 30 really made me realize how important it is. I felt like I had so much more energy and was a lot more focused. I really just felt so much better about myself than I had before the diet,” VanSoest said.
VanSoest also said she felt a lot happier overall throughout the course of the Whole 30 diet.
“After the diet was over and I started eating some of the things I’d used to, I felt super bad super quickly and it made me realize this is something I think needs to be a lifestyle change and not just a quick fix,” VanSoest said.
Katelin Tibbets, a student at Grand Rapids Community college said she tries to keep her diet as clean as possible.
“My body is extremely sensitive to food so a lot of the normal foods that other people eat make me feel terrible. I can’t eat a lot of red meat, dairy, or processed foods because it upsets my stomach and makes me feel just really disgusting so I try to eat a lot of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and white meat,” Tibbets said.
Tibbets said after watching a well known documentary on Netflix called “What the Health” she became even more aware of what she was putting into her body.
“I could not believe how much food effects things we wouldn’t even think of. I already am careful about what I eat because I have to be, but now I am even more aware of my choices because I realize how much it can impact me in so many ways,” Tibbets said.
Tibbets said she believes it’s extremely important for everyone to be in tune with their bodies and what they are eating.
“If you start cutting certain things out of your diet and start feeling happier, healthier, or have more energy- things like that, that should be a flag saying that it isn’t a coincidence. I’ve found that all you have to do is listen to what your body is telling you and you can feel so much better in all aspects of life,” Tibbets said.
Like Tibbets, Selhub said the best thing to do is start paying attention to how eating different foods makes you feel — not just in the moment, but the next day. She said you can try cutting out all processed foods and sugar and add fermented foods like kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, pickles, or kombucha.
For some, it might even help to go dairy or grain free. You can then slowly introduce foods back into your diet, one by one, and see how you feel.