How Nutrition Affects Mental Health

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Food is information to your cells, it communicates nuggets of how your body ultimately behaves. Food is an instruction to your general being, it programs how you feel on a daily basis. Retrospectively, each time you consume a pleasant meal, it is inevitable to have a sigh of contentment. A feeling of satiety. An uncovering of an improved mood especially if you had an urgent hunger pang. At the same time, feelings of stress, and changes in mood, ultimately cause us to crave certain food groups over others, consume more food than normal, and consequently determine the relationship between mental health and our dietary patterns.

Our brains are wired to be always “on” with the current societal speed and lifestyle. The brain is responsible for the proper functioning of the body which includes: movement, sensory, breathing among many other functions. It is for this reason that it is crucial to ensure that we are adequately fuelling our bodies with the right quality of food to ensure that we are not constantly finding ourselves experiencing oxidative stress.

According to scientific studies, your body and brain can actually be damaged when you constantly consume low-quality food. In this case, processed carbohydrates, highly cured meats, and food high in omega 6 that causes inflammation. Our bodies fuel by the macronutrients that we consume. These are the Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats. Consumption of food high in processed carbohydrates over a period of time, for example, worsens the body’s regulation of insulin, promotes inflammation, and increases oxidative stress.

As well, the food we consume determines how we feel. Serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter hormone that helps in the regulation of mood, sleep, appetite, and pain is largely produced in the gut. The production of serotonin is highly influenced by the good bacteria that make up the intestinal microbiome. This leads to lower chances of inflammation and how well we absorb nutrients from the food we consume. New studies now show that the Mediterranean dietary pattern can reduce the risk of depression by up to 25% to 35%. This dietary pattern consists of food high in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, fish, and other seafood. The pattern also incorporates some modest amounts of lean meats and dairy. However, more studies still need to be done to determine the benefits to different populations.

As several studies continue to be done around nutrition and mental health, it is important to begin paying attention to how we feel when we consume different food components. How we feel a day after consuming the food we have on our tables daily. How our bodies begin to program after we begin certain dietary patterns and our trigger points when we are stressed and what we gravitate towards consuming. Having a food journal will definitely assist in ensuring that our mental health cycles are not thrown off and we are constantly having a healthy relationship with food. Getting personalized nutrition information from certified professionals also goes a long way towards achieving your health goals.