Something I truly never thought about as a young adult was how the multiple sodas + junk food I consumed everyday were affecting my mind/brain health. 

In fact, I probably didn't even give a thought to how it affected my overall health in general. 

We can try and ignore the effects of food, but ultimately, we can't escape them. Especially the day-to-day side effects on the mind we often write off as "nothing."

When I speak of the mind, I'm referring to the overall function of your nervous system, which includes the following:

1. Mood

Anti-depressants continue to be one of the most popularly prescribed drugs in the U.S. To not look at our diet and how it's affecting our moods is simply irresponsible. 

Sugar affects the way the neurotransmitters in your body act, which means when you get snappy, have bouts of depression or experience rage or anger, something is off with the signals being sent to your brain. 

Food, genetics, stress and other lifestyle factors, play into why you react and feel the way you do, but who wouldn't want to feel better simply by making some different choices with our food?

Improve your mood by increasing your protein and fat intake + lots of dark leafy greens like spinach and arugula. Focus on lower-sugar fruits like berries, grapefruit and apples. 

2. Memory

There isn't a lot of research on whether or not processed food negatively affects your memory (although, I would argue there's no way it can't), however, there is lots of research on how healthy food can improve it.  

Personally, I have the gene that makes you susceptible to memory loss, and trust me, I've already experienced this, especially after becoming a mom.  

Foods high in omega-3-fatty-acids are one of the best to consume when it comes to improving overall brain function. You can find these high in foods like wild-caught salmon, mackerel, sardines, halibut, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flaxseed. 

3. Focus

When mental health is suffering, it's often a result of poor blood flow and oxygen to the brain. This is the case for mental focus. 

I know you've got lots of decisions to make and goals to achieve in life, and when your mind is lagging, this is going to be a much more difficult process. 

By consuming foods that stimulate blood flow and oxygen to the brain and reducing your junk-food intake, you can improve your focus. 

Blueberries, green tea, avocados, leafy green vegetables, fatty fish, water, dark chocolate, flax seeds, and nuts are great foods to enhance overall focus and mental clarity. 

4. Libido

Poor oxygen and blood flow to the nervous system directly affects one's libido. Gluten has been shown to reduce sex drive, along with dairy and sugar. If you're in a bad mood a lot, you probably aren't going to be in the mood....if you know what I mean. 

Get in the mood by eating more watermelon, blackberries, broccoli, figs, cloves, raisins, and eggs....or taking the supplement, ginseng. 

5. Overall Intelligence (IQ)

The brain is a muscle and when you fuel it with crap, you can actually lower your IQ.  The effects of foods on the brain have been especially studied in children. 

Most people think intelligence is purely genetic, but many studies have proved otherwise. The brain is a muscle. When you read and challenge it daily, you can improve your intelligence.

A list of smart foods you can consume daily are pasture-raised eggs, healthy fats (coconut oil, butter), and fermented foods (think: kefir). 

Want to learn how to eat more smart foods?

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