You are what you eat, according to recent studies. Your nutrition is more than just how your body looks, your health, or your energy level. Studies show your diet also affects your mental health. The new field of study is called nutritional psychiatry. When you consider biochemicals are treatments for many mental conditions, you can understand that naturally occurring chemicals in food, or chemicals created when digesting food, can do the same. Herbs also affect mental health. Cinnamon aids ADHD and irritability symptoms. Green tea and nuts help focus.
The messengers in your body are affected by your digestive tract.
Your body has more microbes than it does cells. These microscopic hitchhikers keep the body functioning properly, but only if there is a good balance and are more beneficial microbes than harmful ones. Most of the body’s microbes are found in the gut microbiome. A healthy diet can help produce more beneficial microbes, which also keep the harmful ones at bay. If your diet is high in soluble fiber found in many fruits and vegetables, it provides nutrients that feed the beneficial bacteria. If your diet is high in sugar, it diminishes the number of beneficial microbes and increases the harmful ones.
Some microbes produce short-chain fatty acids.
The fatty acids help regulate the nervous system. The population of these bacteria is scanter in people who suffer from anxiety or depression. People with high levels of anxiety and depression also have a particular species of microbes that create inflammation that can affect the vagus nerve, causing anxiety symptoms, such as increased heart rate, mood issues, a lowered immune response, and digestion. Others believe it’s the introduction of inflammation alone may also cause mental issues.
Protect your brain with food high in antioxidants.
Food high in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant foods can help keep your brain healthier. They can protect the brain from free radicals that cause damage. Sugar damages the body, and studies show a diet high in sugar can increase inflammation, blood sugar fluctuations, and increase mood disorders, and depression. Increasing omega-3 fatty acids and reducing omega-6 can also improve behavior. A prison study at the most violent prison in England showed a dramatic reduction in violence when they increased omega-3 in the diet.
- Neurotransmitters are produced in the digestive tract. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for many functions, including mood shifts. Specific gut microbes are necessary to produce it. Your diet helps determine whether you have an adequate population.
- A high-sugar diet not only kills beneficial bacteria and microbes but also causes insulin spikes and high blood glucose levels. Those spikes can boost energy, but the sudden drop in levels can cause emotional responses and lethargy.
- When scientists compared the impact of the average American diet to the traditional Mediterranean or Japanese diet, those consuming the Western diet showed a higher incidence of depression.
- Include food higher in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon or flaxseed, and foods high in vitamin B, folic acid, and tryptophan. Vitamin D also affects your mood, and safe sunning is a good option.
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