The link between mental health conditions and the food we eat is more profound than you always thought. Surprisingly, many people are not aware that chemical compounds in our diet are responsible for the way we feel. These compounds influence the way our feelings surface, and also has an impact on depression, anxiety, and dissociation.
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What Links Mental Health To Nutrition?
Neuroscience research confirms and is continually looking to further explore how the food we eat and there compounds influence brain activity can help to cure and possibly improve the daily lives of those affected by common conditions like depression, anxiety, and dissociation.
In many ways, our brain is a reflection of the food we eat. The old adage that said, “you become what you eat,” was true to a great extent after all these years. This is because the brain relies on what we eat. Food becomes brain fuel, the fuel we need for our brain to function. Nutritional deficiencies have a direct relationship with our mental health.
It is a known fact that high sugar is damaging to the organs of your body. High sugar can interfere with the way insulin is controlled in our body and lead to spikes in insulin, causing our brains and bodies to be on high alert adjusting functions within to survive.
High sugar levels in the blood lead to generalized inflammatory responses by the immune system, and this also puts your body under tremendous stress. Nutrition scientists have found a link between high sugar diets, mood instability and depression.
Bad food choices can result in the activation of brain-damaging processes. Tissue injury and other serious health complications can result in the long-run. This is more like slow brain death, and it is too late when you find out the causes. To be on the safe side, indulge in brain replenishing foods, and toss those refined foods aside for maximal brain-power.
How Your Diet May Be Altering The Way, You Feel
The happy neurotransmitter, called serotonin, is responsible for feelings of happiness and impedes pain signals.
Surprisingly, most serotonin is produced in the gut rather than the brain itself by the billions of neurons lining the human intestine. Here comes the exciting part; the gut has natural colonies of good bacteria, which also influence the secretion of serotonin. It means that you should eat diets rich in natural probiotics, like food derived directly from plants and animal sources.
Go for naturally fermented food options rather than processed foods, which are a significant troublemaker. When colonies of good bacteria are residing in your gut, the levels of serotonin secretions are steady. When you feel good, you are less likely to experience stress, anxiety and dissociation.
Moreover, those good guys in your gut do more than the absorption of nutrients. They also control inflammatory changes taking place all over the body. This can tremendously influence your mood and energy, as well.
Road To A Healthy Brain-Best Foods To Boost Brain Function
- Potassium- It works to ward off some serious brain diseases like stroke indirectly by controlling blood pressure. If your diet lacks Potassium, you would likely feel stressed out, lethargic and depressed. Consumption of recommended daily allowance of Potassium will keep you feeling fresh and active. It is advised to include potassium-rich fruits and vegetables like bananas, apricots, raisins, dates, spinach, broccoli, mushroom, peas etc.
- Vitamin-B- Another helpful compound, which is known for boosting brain health, is Vitamin B. This is a complex vitamin that helps to elevate mood, curb depression, fight memory loss, and relieve stress. Foods rich in Vitamin B include barley, millet, red meat, poultry, seafood, beans, lentils, sunflower seeds, almonds, dark leafy vegetables, avocados, bananas, and citrus foods.
- Vitamin B6- Serotonin is a compound that is responsible for all the happiness that you feel. When serotonin levels are thrown off-balance, you feel emotionally shattered, unstable, and depressed. It is recommended to consume foods like asparagus, wheat germ, chicken breast, eggs, soya beans, sweet potatoes, watermelon, wholegrain cereals like oats, brown rice etc.
- Folic Acid- It is a natural stress reliever and stabilizes mood, which is found in dark green vegetables, lentils, beetroot, okra, oranges, mango, nuts etc. Folic acid supplements are also a great option to ensure the regular supply of this vital compound.
- Say No To MSG- You need to toss this out of your diet if you are trying to identify the culprits for feeling low, anxiety, depression, and dissociation. This particular compound does more harm than good. It is added to processed foods to enhance the taste. For many eating foods with MSG causes headaches, depression, and other long term side-effects.
- Spice it up- Studies suggest that spicy food triggers the release of endorphins. This is a ‘feel-good hormone’ needed by the body to keep you smiling and chirping away. Don’t forget to spice it up if you are feeling low unless you are suffering from a digestive issue in which you are unable to tolerate spice. Naturally made hot puree and hot sauces are recommended as they would be free of those brain-damaging additives and preservatives. Consider adding chopped green chillies to your food to enjoy a spicy meal next time you are feeling down.
Besides nutrition, other lifestyle choices can take a toll on mental health without you even realizing it. For example, you might be a late sleeper, or you hardly get a decent amount of sleep. Seven to eight hours of sound sleep rests your body and allows the brain to function efficiently, repair, and refresh. Your nutrition or lack of may affect your sleep.
The chain of events may look like this: You don’t give your body the nutrients it needs as you are depressed or anxious. The energy you do have is spent on how horrible you feel in your body due to the unhelpful thoughts you are coping with and trying to complete some daily tasks. The end result is you feel bad, don’t move, don’t sleep well and don’t eat well. The more this cycle continues, the worse you feel.
To get out of this downward cycle, make small changes to help yourself. One minor change in your daily routine can bring tremendous positive changes to your mental health.
Don’t get hung up in which do I do first, fix my nutrition, do exercise, sleep more, do one or try to do all at once. Just try one small change and wait a few days to see how you feel. If it feels good, then carry on doing, if it feels terrible, try something different. Keep the first thing on a list to try at a later date. We are all unique, and no roadmap works for all of us.
There are many books that can assist in helping you optimize your nutrition. Leisure answers recommends the following book available at Amazon.
Feel better by taking one step forward.