Your brain has a 24/7 job. From your breath and heartbeat, to your sense of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch, to your daily activities and thought processes, your brain is always ON! Just like a well-oiled machine, in order for your brain to work at its absolute best, consuming high-quality foods will not only allow YOU to function at the highest level possible but it will influence your brain’s structure and functionality. As a result, you are not only gaining the physical benefits but the mental and emotional ones too. The same has been shown to hold true when on a fasting protocol. With there being so much buzz around fasting, it comes as no surprise that research continues to show the positive effects it can have on your behavior and mood.
How Food Affects Behavior and Mood
Food is fuel, and the “right” fuel is what keeps you at the top of your game. When you fuel your body appropriately, you will notice you have more energy & improved performance, are able to stay more focused, less likely to become depressed, able to manage and maintain weight easier, and can even handle your emotions better.
Studies have shown that a more “Traditional” dietary approach tends to have the greatest, positive impact on your brain and body since it focuses on foods that contain quality vitamins, minerals, and cancer preventing agents such as antioxidants. Take, for example, the Mediterranean Diet, which has a strong emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and seafood, healthy fats, and fermented foods (which are natural probiotics). On the other hand, consuming foods high in processed meats, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats – like that of “Western” diets – have an opposite effect on the body, which can be reflected in your mood. When consuming foods devoid of any nutritional value – think sweets, fried foods, sodas, etc.- your body has little wiggle room to do anything with them. They will make you feel sluggish, tired, and even groggy. Over time, this can lead to insulin sensitivity and inflammation in the body, as well as bring on the on-set (or even worsen) mood disorders, such as depression.
Additionally, not only is it important to understand how food affects your mood but also how the quantity can affect your mood too. Not consuming enough calories, especially if on a low carbohydrate diet, may make you feel irritable and “moody.” This is due in part to a drop in blood sugar levels. However, overeating, and consuming an abundance of calories coming from more refined carbohydrates, can spur the onset of hormones affecting cortisol levels, growth hormone, adrenaline, and glucagon. These have been shown to impact anxiety, irritability, depression, and even hunger.
Intermittent Fasting and Mood Changes
In a 2015 study, clinicians found that when individuals – the study was performed with aging male participants – adopted a calorie restrictive diet, such as intermittent fasting, there was a positive effect on mood, specifically depression. Results showed a decrease in overall anger, tension, and confusion, coupled with a more positive attitude and happiness. Even after a six month period, when calories were sustained at a 25% reduction, there were no negative changes in participants mood, just continued improvement in depressive symptoms.
Intermittent fasting has some powerful benefits and effects on the brain as well. Here are some of the ways consistent fasting can support brain health:
- Treats and prevents neurological diseases
- Prevents the formation of tumors and boosts the response to chemotherapy (additionally, fasting can protect healthy, normal cells during this process as well)
- Improved cognition
- Reduces the effects from a stroke, such as brain function and possible brain damage
- Minimizes the risk of developing multiple sclerosis or epilepsy
When adding intermittent fasting to your lifestyle, an important piece to understand is knowing WHAT to eat. While there is no one size fits all plan, the best way to determine what is right for YOU is to monitor your hunger, energy, and cravings, as well as your physical, mental, and emotional health along the way. Focusing on lean proteins, moderate complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats at each meal is ideal for sustained energy, staying satisfied for longer periods of time, and having less desire to snack throughout the day (which can hinder your fasting efforts).
If you are wondering what you should eat, or would like more guidance on where to even begin, here are some ideas to get you started. Of course, you can customize and tweak based on your specific needs and goals!
- Omelet with veggies and avocado; side of berries
- Spinach salad with veggies, avocado, and lean protein; add sliced egg and/or nuts if you so choose, as well as a homemade salad dressing made of olive oil
- Lean beef, sweet potato, steamed broccoli
Brighten Your Mood With THCV
Found in the cannabis plant, THCV is a cannabinoid, the same group of molecules as THC and CBD. In one study out of the United Kingdom, THCV was administered to healthy individuals to test its effectiveness on stress and anxiety. The results indicated that THCV had a positive impact, protecting against short term memory, paranoia, psychotic symptoms, and even lowered heart rate. It produced all the same benefits of THC without the unpleasant side effects or the “high.”
If you’re looking for an easy way to get the mood boosting benefits of intermittent fasting without the cravings, check out Citravarin. Made with THCV, this is a great way to support not only your fasting efforts but to help curb your appetite, cravings, and keep you focused! Since hunger, cravings, and lack of focus can make you feel anxious and irritable, this is an ideal addition to your lifestyle and nutrition regime.
There are many factors as to what influence and affect mood, and implementing a fasting protocol may be the missing link to address any signs and symptoms you may be experiencing. This, coupled with a well balanced diet, may help reduce and diminish feelings of irritability, tension, anxiousness, and even depression.
Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain On Food
Food and Mood: How Do Diet and Nutrition Affect Mental Well-Being?
Fasting as a Therapy in Neurological Disease
You Are What You Eat: How Food Affects Your Mood
The effect of five day dosing with THCV on THC-induced cognitive, psychological and physiological effects in healthy male human volunteers: A placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover pilot trial