By Sakshi Aggarwal  on: 28 June 2017
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Most people know that what a person eats has an impact on their physical health. What sometimes gets forgotten is the impact food has on a person's mental health and overall wellbeing. Choosing the right foods and taking care to avoid less than healthy foods can have a huge impact on how you feel.

Eating more than your recommended intake of calories can lead to you being overweight. This is easily done when eating foods that are high in calories but low in nutritional benefits. Sugary and fatty foods are the biggest culprits. You know the sort of thing: donuts, chips, ice cream and cakes. Unfortunately, being overweight puts a person at a greater risk of developing depression. A person with depression feels down all of the time and has a sense of hopelessness. Depression is also prevalent in people with Type 2 diabetes. It is believed that Type 2 diabetes doubles a person's chances of developing depression. Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition which a person is at risk of developing if they are overweight or obese and eat an unhealthy diet.

Having said that being overweight increases a person's chance of being depressed, there has also been found a link between being depressed and later becoming overweight. However, by choosing certain foods you can reduce your risk of both developing depression and becoming overweight. Foods that are good for our physical health are also good for our mental wellbeing.

Aim for a balanced diet that does not restrict any food group. Cutting carbohydrates is not a good idea as it is likely they help produce serotonin a chemical in the brain that helps boost mood and increases resilience. Research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found people on a low carbohydrate diet experienced more depression, anxiety and anger than those on a low fat, high carbohydrate diet. Other foods found to increase serotonin levels include: nuts, tofu, garlic and capsicum. These foods are also high in zinc and magnesium and feelings of depression and anxiety can arise if you are deficient in these nutrients.

If you want to eat yourself happy, try to eat whole foods. Whole foods are food items that have not been processed or refined. Consider things like nuts, seeds, legumes, fruit and vegetables. A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found people who ate whole foods over the previous year reported fewer feelings of depression compared to people who ate more refined foods.

Eating foods that contain folate can improve mood. Such foods include spinach, beans and citrus. Spinach and citrus are also high in vitamin C, which can help protect your immune system during times of stress. In fact fruit and vegetables generally are a source of antioxidants which can reduce the risk of depression and decrease stress. Dark chocolate also contains antioxidants. However, it is high in fat so needs to be eaten in moderation.

Remember to enjoy your food, think carefully about your food choices and know it is benefiting both your mind and your body.

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28 June 2017
No matter how many fad diets come out with claims of allowing you to eat whatever you want in whatever amounts, if it violates the principles of basic metabolism, you will not lose weight. Simply stated, if you consume more calories than you expend through your body's natural requirements and exercise, you will not lose weight. The basics of good nutrition are balancing the number of calories you consume with the number of calories you burn. If you consume more calories than you burn your body will turn the excess calories to fat. If you burn more than you consume, your body will burn the extra required calories from your fat stores and you will lose weight. If your calories consumed and burned are in balance, your weight will be maintained. The first step in understanding calories is to determine how many calories you need daily. The number of calories you need depends primarily on your activity level. The average male requires about 2,800 calories while athletes can burn up to four or even five thousand.  The three basic levels of activity into which most people fall into are:  Sedentary: This level is defined as little or no exercise a day. Males and this level need about 2,400 calories and females need 2,000. Active: This level is defined as 30-60 minutes of exercise a day. Males and this level need about 2,800 calories and females need 2,200. Very Active: This level is defined as more than 60 minutes of exercise a day. Males and this level need about 3,000 calories and females need 2,400.   To get truly accurate measurements of your daily caloric requirements, you can use a tool called the Harris Benedict Formula (HBF). The HBF uses your weight, age, height, and sex to calculate you basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is defined as the amount of calories you would burn if you slept all day long. Then by multiplying your BMR by your activity level, you can get a more accurate reading of your daily caloric needs. The HBF uses the metric system so remember to convert pounds to kilograms and inches to centimeters. You can do this by multiplying pounds by 0.4536 and inches by 2.54. The first step in using the Harris Benedict Formula is to calculate your BMR: For men: BMR= 66 (13.7 x weight in kg) (5x height in cm) - (6.8 x age in years) For women: BMR= 655 (9.6 x weight in kg) (1.8 x height in cm) - (4.7 x age in years) Once you've calculated your BMR, simply multiply it by your activity level.  Sedentary: BMR x 1.2 Active: BMR x 1.55 Very Active: BMR x 1.725   Once you've calculated how many calories you need you can adjust your caloric intake with your weight management goal. If you want to lose weight comfortably, aim for 500 less calories a day. One pound of fat is 3,500 calories so by creating a daily negative caloric balance of 500 calories you can burn off a pound of fat a week. So that's the science behind any weight loss plan but adhering to the plan is the challenge. A night of binging can ruin days of effort so try to get a partner to keep you in check and plan out your daily meals in advance.
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