It is vitally important that a successful weight reduction diet include the necessary properly balanced nutrients which promote optimal brain health in addition to nutrition for other parts of the body. It is common knowledge and nothing new that nutrition affects mood and behavior, but it is oftentimes overlooked that mood and thought patterns impact what we eat, when we eat and how much we eat. Since the regulation of body weight in humans is determined by the energy intake in the form of calories and energy expenditure, known as calorie burning, the brain is the control center of that regulation inasmuch as it governs appetite and physical activity.

In order for the brain to optimally perform its functions it must have the proper balance of basic and special nutrients which provide energy and building blocks for brain structure and various substances including neurotransmitters and neurohormones involved in the sending of messages from one brain cell to another, which is the basis of physical and mental activity. Those basic and brain-specific nutrients in our diets which support mental activity are essentially food for thought. The basic nutrients are carbohydrates, protein and fats which provide energy or fuel. The more specific nutrients however, are various minerals, vitamins, fatty acids or good fats and antioxidants which help protect against brain damage caused by the effects of oxygen.

The center of our emotions is the limbic system, a complex set of structures in the brain which in addition to controlling appetite and the willingness to exercise, also is the source of other emotional states which determine calorie intake and calorie burning, such as addictions, discouragement, motivation, willpower and encouragement, to mention a few. Healthy brain function is designed to maintain a balance between calorie intake and calorie burning so as to maintain a stable and healthy body weight. Thus, it is not rocket science that an unhealthy brain caused by poor brain nutrition can engender an imbalance between the two and result in either obese malnutrition or underweight malnutrition.

An example of a specific nutritional deficiency associated with underweight malnutrition and poor mental health is Korsakoff syndrome, a brain disorder seen in chronic alcoholics whose diets are deficient in Vitamin B-1 also known as thiamine. In addition to being underweight individuals with this disorder are confused and forgetful, and exhibit personality changes and sometimes psychotic symptoms totally separate from intoxication, weeks out from drinking.

An example of an association between obese malnutrition and poor mental health is depression. It is well reported in the medical literature that individuals with depression are more likely to become obese and vice versa. In fact, one study cited in the March 2010 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry showed that obese individuals are 55% more likely to develop depression than non-obese individuals and that depressed people are 58% more likely to develop obesity.

Although the trigger factors in the association between obesity and depression are not clearly known, there is ample literature showing that depression is linked with vitamin B deficiencies, particularly vitamin B9 (folic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin B2 (riboflavin).

There is no all-inclusive scientific explanation or understanding for the relationship between mental health and obesity, but a simplified behavioral model suggests the existence of a vicious cycle of reinforcing thought patterns and behavioral responses resulting in increasing degrees of weight gain and overall health decline. The thought patterns associated with the cycle might include discouragement, mood depression, lack of or loss of willpower to do the things necessary to lose weight and addiction to unhealthy foods.

The relationship between brain health, obesity and overall health emphasizes the importance of a well-balanced diet which is rich in the essential brain nutrients to any successful weight reduction program.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice or a substitute for medical consultation with a qualified professional. If you are seeking legal advice or are unsure about your medical condition you should consult an attorney and/or physician.

Author's Bio: 

Victor E. Battles, M.D. is a board-certified internist with 30 + years of patient contact, and is the founder of Proactive Health Outlet, a resource providing self-help for improving health. For information about balanced diet meals and top brain foods, visit Proactive Health Outlet.