Does Your Nutrition Affect Your Behavior?



What Is the Link Between Nutrition and Behavior?

For as long as we’ve been studying nutrition and the impact it has on our behavior, scientists have been asking the same question: How is nutrition related to behavior?

Beyond the obvious, of course, is the fact that eating healthy foods is the best way to fuel our bodies and minds. But beyond that, there’s an even more intriguing connection: What if the foods we eat have an influence on the types of behaviors we engage in?

Maureen Swanson, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and the scientific director for the Monell Chemical Senses Center, a research group that examines the effects of nutrition on behavior, says that, to a certain extent, the foods we eat can affect the way we think and feel.

“There are neurotransmitters in the brain—such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins—that are affected by the foods you eat,” she explains. “As you eat certain foods that naturally elevate these neurotransmitters, certain behaviors are affected, such as feeling happier or more energetic.” Furthermore, Swanson says, certain foods can affect our attention span, concentration, and ability to stay focused.

What Are the Evidence-Based Benefits of Healthy Food?

Aside from the fact that healthy foods can help us be more focused, energized, and happier, they can also potentially reduce the risk of various diseases and disorders, including:

Heart disease - A diet high in fruits, vegetables, and fiber is considered heart-healthy and can reduce the risk of heart disease.

Diabetes - Research has linked consuming whole fruits and vegetables, fiber, and fiber found in legumes with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Cancer - Healthy fats found in avocados, olives, olive oil, and certain fish may help reduce the risk of certain cancers, such as breast cancer.

Summary: Does Your Nutrition Affect Your Behavior?

Studies have looked at the impact of diet on behavior and have found some interesting results. For example, eating a diet high in fats and refined carbs has been shown to increase impulsivity, impulsive behaviors, and addictive tendencies. Consuming a healthy, well-balanced diet, however, has been shown to reduce impulsivity and help us focus on the present.

The good news is that there’s no one-size-fits-all diet that will work for everyone. What matters most is that we eat a balanced, healthy diet that includes a variety of different foods each day.

Conclusion

Studies have looked at the impact of diet on behavior and have found some interesting results. For example, eating a diet high in fats and refined carbs has been shown to increase impulsivity, impulsive behaviors, and addictive tendencies.

Consuming a healthy, well-balanced diet, however, has been shown to reduce impulsivity and help us focus on the present. The good news is that there’s no one-size-fits-all diet that will work for everyone. What matters most is that we eat a balanced, healthy diet that includes a variety of different foods each day.