junk food

Dr. Syras Derksen

During a particularly rough day, it’s easy to indulge in junk food. After all, you deserve to treat yourself, right? Not necessarily.

While you may think you’re doing yourself a favor by straying from your diet, eating unhealthy foods can actually prolong a bad mood. This is particularly true for women, too. Here’s the science behind why junk food makes you that much more miserable.

Decisions, Decisions

Who really wants to eat a salad while they’re down in the dumps? Truthfully, no one does. But, new research may have you thinking otherwise.

A new study published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience has found compelling links between eating healthy and mental well-being. The study’s researchers found that junk foods actually slow your brain’s ability to communicate with different regions, as compared to healthier options.

Ditch The Junk Foods

Specifically, foods with high caffeine content spike stress responses; fried foods promote inflammation; and sugary or starchy foods cause blood sugar spikes.

So not only do we feel lethargic after eating unhealthy foods, but there’s a physiological response to them as well, which causes our mood to sink.

Healthy Diet, Healthy Mind

The good news is, healthy foods can actually help your brain communicate with its different regions, which elevates mood. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids and amino acids are especially beneficial.

Eating healthy is particularly important for women, as women’s brains have more neural connectivity between different brain regions compared to men’s brains.

The study also found that those on the Mediterranean diet – which includes fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, and limited healthy fats – experienced better moods and feelings after eating. The best part? The Mediterranean diet also allows for some red wine.

So, the next time you want to load up on junk food on a bad day, do your body and mind a favor and opt for healthier choices.