The Worst Food to Eat for Your Mental Health, Says Expert

·2 min read

Maintaining your mental health is no easy task. Everything from sleep to exercise to diet can play a role and sometimes it's hard to know exactly what to do in order to get to a point of feeling your best.

Your diet could be mentally weighing you down, so making some simple changes could be a great place to start. We're not talking about switching up your whole diet, of course, because that can be tough. Instead, we were curious to find out if there's one food making our mental health worse. In order to do so, we consulted Sydney Greene, MS, RD, and member of our medical expert board, to get her take on what the worst food for mental health. (Related: 45 Doctors' Own Mental Health Tips).

It's possible that your cocktail at happy hour or the glass of wine with dinner could be why your anxiety is spiking.

"The body's effect on metabolizing the alcohol throughout the night affects our ability to enter a REM state, leading to an overall poorer night's sleep," says Sydney Greene.

So, it all comes down to the relationship between alcohol and your ability to get a good night's rest.

According to Greene, "Studies show that even a 1-hour reduction in sleep can increase our calorie consumption in a day by around 500 calories and affect irritability and mood disruptions."

The last thing you're probably thinking about when sipping your cocktail is the impact it can have on your sleep and ultimately your mental health, but it's something that shouldn't be ignored.

Alcohol can also negatively affect the gut microbiome.

You may be wondering what the gut microbiome has to do with mental health (trust us, we did too), but negative impacts due to alcohol on the gut microbiome can ultimately lead to dysbiosis.

"Dysbiosis occurs when the bad bacteria outweigh good bacteria in the gut which can lead to issues such as inflammation, poor immune function, increased sugar cravings, weight gain, and of course, dysregulated mood," says Greene.

So, if your mental health is suffering, not to mention all the other bodily issues that can come from dysbiosis, ditching the alcohol could be the key to feeling better.

Alcohol is a depressant.

This means that you could be feeling significant alterations in your mood not only while you're drinking, but also up to 48 hours after drinking as well.

"It is common to feel anxious, sad, overwhelmed, or alone after drinking episodes, and for some, this ignites a desire to eat as a way to cope," says Greene.

Ultimately, skipping the alcohol could be the key to starting to get your mental health back on track.

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