When it comes to improving your overall health – both mental and physical – there’s nothing that has a greater effect than dietary changes. It may be cliche, but you really are what you eat. Your body and mind can only run on the power you provide, and if that power is of low quality, the systems of your body are going to run poorly. Here’s how eating right can positively influence a number of common health problems.

Eating Right to Reduce the Impact of Chronic Pain

There are many causes of chronic pain, but one of the most common is inflammation. There are really only a few major ways to reduce the inflammation that leads to chronic pain — anti-inflammatory medications, exercise, and dietary changes.

“There are many ways to treat and manage chronic pain. One of the most exciting approaches, however — because it is all natural — is adopting an anti-inflammatory diet. The other options for pain don’t always work. Many patients don’t benefit from neural blocks, and medication therapy often leads to undesired side effects,” says ClevelandClinic.org.

As some people can suffer pretty severe side effects from anti-inflammatory medications, choosing to focus on changing one’s diet to help fight chronic pain may be the better option. An anti-inflammatory diet is all about removing certain inflammatory foods and replacing them with foods known to reduce inflammation.

Eating Right to Help Manage Depression

What you eat doesn’t just affect your body — it also affects your mind. In fact, scientists believe that gut bacteria is linked to mood, meaning your diet has a direct impact on your brain.

“Because what you eat affects your mood, you should aim for foods that enhance your gut health. In fact, microorganisms produce numerous neurochemicals. These neurochemicals made by gut bacteria play a role in mood and other neurologic functions,” says Psychology Today.

Additionally, depression can take its toll on our physical health. For instance, depression has a connection to our oral and heart health; if left untreated, these issues can worsen, leading to severe problems that could threaten our overall well-being.

So, what should you eat to help with depression and anxiety? Omega-3 fatty acids, for one. Foods rich in these brain boosters include nuts and fish like salmon, cod, and halibut. You should also stock up on leafy greens and foods rich in Vitamin D, as deficiencies in that vitamin have been proven to negatively affect mood.

If you’re looking to reduce the effects of anxiety, you should avoid excess alcohol, caffeine, and artificial sweeteners.

Eating Right to Aid in Addiction Recovery

When it comes to recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, nutrition plays a bigger role than you may think. When people abuse drugs and alcohol, they often neglect their diet. Many people beginning recovery are somewhat malnourished, as drugs and alcohol do damage to the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Not only that, but people addicted to drugs and alcohol eat far less and far worse than other people.

Because of this, those in recovery need nutrient-rich, healthy foods more than most.

Even when their bodies are somewhat repleted, the role of proper nutrition doesn’t end. Eating right can help you stay on the recovery path by helping to regulate blood sugar and mood.

Sure, adopting a healthier diet will shrink those love handles and make you look better in a bathing suit, but the benefits of proper nutrition are so much more. Eating right affects your physical and mental health and is the first and most important factor in overall well-being.

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