The foods we eat greatly affect our mental health, and in turn, our business.
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June 27, 2021 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Few entrepreneurs are aware of how their diet affects their mental health along with how the foods they eat mitigate their ability to handle stress. Over the last few years, our collective mental state has declined immensely from isolation in quarantine and the poor choices in foods we have been making. Being in business for ourselves has created a unique response to understand just how food can affect our mental state. Foods also influence our ability to perform at the levels needed as business owners to keep in a peak state of performance.
There is more and more research being published every year demonstrating how the foods we eat affect our ability to cope with the everyday stress of owning a business. Along with how eating the wrong foods greatly increases our anxiety, depression, and general un-well being. Mental disorders of all types affect a growing number of people every year. Current research estimates that over 26% of adults have some form of mental disorder: anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s and dementia to name a few. This number is growing each year, especially among those in business for themselves.
The science behind food and our moods
As entrepreneurs, we need to fuel our system both physically and mentally to keep the creative juices flowing for growth and sustainability. Choosing the right fuel can mean the difference between the upper echelons of success and the ho-hum doldrums of just getting by.
Foods rich in simple carbohydrates, saturated fat, and sugar are known to increase inflammation in the brain along with affecting insulin levels that in turn affect how the neurotransmitters work. These SAD (standard American diet) foods trigger the fight or flight response in our body furthermore increasing the inflammatory response. It becomes a vicious cycle that feeds upon itself becoming an infinity loop. These foods are also extremely low in vitamins, minerals, proteins and amino acids which are all the building blocks for how the brain and the body communicates with itself. If we do not have the building blocks to create dopamine and serotonin our nervous system becomes “depressed’. We feel hopeless and develop anxiety that can even lead to suicidal adulation. Our nervous system becomes highly susceptible to the stress response when this happens, driving us further down the path of mental illness.
How to eat healthier to improve our entrepreneurial mental health
Restructuring what you eat will greatly influence the outcome of your mental health. If the brain is not fueled correctly, your ability to be creative and forward-thinking about how your business runs is greatly diminished. Your business and future depend on an optimally fed and fueled biological system that allows for ease of adaptation along with the ability to grow quickly. Increasing your vegetable and fruit intake with what I call the paleo-RAINBOW diet (all the colors of the rainbow) will increase the number of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and organic grass-fed meat your body needs as the building blocks for our neurotransmitters.
The higher the nutrient density of the food you have the healthier, more adaptive, and growth mindset you are. Think of getting a cup of each color of the rainbow every day. You don’t put crappy fuel in your car — why put it in your body?
You can also mitigate inflammation and mental health issues with supplements. There are some very key specific supplements that you can take to boost brain function and decrease mental health issues. Basic supplements that can be added in are:
A B-complex formula, which decreases and supports the nervous system along with whole-body detoxification
Essential fatty acids (Omega 3s). You want a higher DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) content of your supplement as this one is very specific to brain function and brain plasticity. As a society, our blood is low in omega 3s, which leads to cellular rigidity throughout the body: blood, brain, vasculature, and in men leads to erectile dysfunction.
Folate: Getting your methylation genetics and blood status checked is key to knowing if you are having issues with folate in your body.
Nootropics are supplements that supercharge your brain function. They are supplements that can really boost the brain once you have decreased all of the other issues at hand. In other words, don’t bother with these until you fix the underlying issues.
Your mental state is a direct reflection of your environment. What you surround yourself with along with what you fuel your body with will be the output of your system. Garbage in and around equals garbage out. Poor body and mind equal poor unsuccessful business. Choosing to fuel your nervous system along with your body with the best fuels possible (the paleo-rainbow diet as noted earlier) will drive your system to next-level optimization and peak state performance along with your business. The old adage of eating right and exercising is still key to this day. Strong body, strong mind, strong business.