After making it through a sizable chunk of my young adulthood where I basically flipped from one unhealthy diet to the next, I began working with a holistic therapist to gain a better relationship with food.
She helped me explore the benefits of eating in a way that strengthens both my mind and my body.
I found myself gravitating toward plant-based diets, and the ways they can benefit both your physical and mental health.
It turns out, a plant-based diet really is about so much more than just spinach and kale.
First of all, if we're talking specifics, a plant-based diet actually includes nuts, whole grains, legumes, fruits, and even coffee -- in addition to the green vegetables your mom force-fed you when you were little.
Essentially, a plant-based diet is all about getting the most of your daily nutrients and proteins from plants, rather than meat, eggs, or processed and refined foods like flour and oil.
And, as you could imagine, the physical benefits of a plant-based diet are practically endless: lower BMI, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels are only a taste of what can be expected from some green-eating.
But studies also show that a plant-based diet can boost your overall mood and productivity by increasing antioxidants, regulating blood sugar, and increasing mood-enhancing nutrients.
It's pretty simple, really: When the physical body is able to function better, you feel better, too.
Elite Daily spoke with Dr. Jamie Koufman, director of the Voice Institute, expert in respiratory reflux, and author of Dr. Koufman's Acid Reflux Diet: With 111 All New Recipes Including Vegan & Gluten-Free about how a plant-based diet alters your moods, as well as other important bodily processes.
She began her research with a focus on acid reflux, but found that a person's diet affected, well, pretty much everything:
Yes, [a plant-based diet is] good for mood, it's good for your heart, your circulation, including your brain circulation -- which might be part of the mood effect. It's good for diabetes, good for reflux, and probably good for most of the common diseases and epidemics, from sleep apnea to sinus disease to allergies. All of these epidemics have to do with our food supply.
Dr. Koufman very candidly notes that a lot of this has to do with how the agriculture and food businesses have changed in the US and now include lots and lots of hybridized and genetically modified foods, as well as toxic preservatives.
As it stands now, America has very few government regulations as to how foods -- and the animals that become food -- are treated.
A plant-based diet is not only a healthier diet. A meat-based diet can actually be dangerous and disease-causing. And processed food is poison. It couldn't be worse. It's filled with unpronounceable chemical food additives.
Koufman believes the next generation will see a huge rise in plant-based diets, and she suggests trying a two-week vegan or vegetarian detox, and tracking your changes in physical and mental health to see the results for yourself.
Since making a change to follow a mostly vegan diet herself, she's noted more than just a few marked changes in her ability to focus.
Remember, if you're thinking about making a switch like this, there's no need to go totally plant-based anti-processed-foods overnight.
Even just incremental changes in your diet can lead to serious improvements of your day-to-day mood levels and productivity.