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Health and Resilience

We already know food is linked to our mood – what we eat and what we do can impact our energy levels, mood and self-confidence. But did you also know what we eat and do can also have an impact on our resilience?

What Is Resilience?

Resilience has many definitions globally, but the themes that run through them all is the ability to adapt and recover from change or periods of stresses. Ultimately it’s about a journey of transformation.

Most of us will face stresses or periods of added pressure at some point during our lives– at home, at work or amongst our social groups. Stress is a normal part of life; which can on the one hand help provide motivation and a feeling of being energised but when it becomes too much it can become overwhelming and impact our physical or mental health.

'Resilience is a journey of transformation'

What's The Link With Food?

What we eat, and therefore nutrition, is strongly linked to resilience – as both an influencer and an outcome of better resilience.

People who are active with a healthy balanced diet tend to be better nourished and healthier overall. Which means they are less likely to suffer from health conditions (such as being overweight, type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease), have more physical reserves to cope with change and, as some research has shown, can also be more productive.

  • There are many nutrients that have been linked with mood and positive mental health such as selenium, folate, iron and omega 3, and diets rich in these may reduce the risk of suffering from depression (however more research is needed in this area).
  • There is also a two way connection between our digestive system and our brain. And as a result, the food we eat can impact the delicate balance of ‘good bacteria’ that naturally live in our digestive system which can impact our immune system, mood and energy levels.
  • Alcohol can also have a big impact on our mood as well. Although at first it can help us relax and reduce inhibitions regular consumption can reduce the quality and amount of sleep and lower our mood, acting as a depressant.

What's The Link With Lifestyle?

It’s not just the food we eat that can impact our mood and personal resilience; our sleep and activity are also major influencers.

  • Sleep: Lots of important things happen when we sleep – muscle repair, hormone release and removal of toxins and waste products from our brain and body. Not getting enough sleep, or the right quality of sleep, can impact your mood, energy, weight and health risks. Find out more about the importance of sleep here.
  • Being Active: Not only good for your waistline, being active can boost your mood, help you sleep and improve muscle tone and body shape. Exercise can be good for your head as well as your heart – it can help to release stress, boost mood, relax tension and help you sleep. This is because exercise not only reduces stress hormones in the body is also increases the production or mood elevating hormone known as endorphins. Find out more about the benefits of exercise here.

What Can I Do To Boost My Resilience?

References

  • World Health Organisation (WHO) WHO Healthy Workplaces - Model for Action 2010, Geneva. WHO.
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2014) Nutrition and Resilience: Strengthening the links between resilience and nutrition in food and agriculture. Rome, FAO.
  • British Dietetic Association – Food and Mood available here: https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/food_mood