More and research is finding that a nutritious diet isn’t merely good for your body. It’s great for the brain as well. This knowledge is birthing a concept which is called nutritional (or food) psychiatry. Traditionally, psychiatrists and psychologists haven’t been trained to ask about food and nutrition. However, diet is possibly the most powerful intervention we have. By assisting people with shaping their diets, we are able to improve their mental health and decrease their risk of psychiatric disorders.
The Low-Down On Nutritional Psychiatry
Regarding nutritional psychiatry, through research, we are learning that the food which we eat has an impact on how we feel emotionally.
There are some people who seek out complementary treatments such as food-mood interventions in addition to allopathic medications in order to boost their chances of improving mood as well as anxiety.
It’s vital to note that such complementary treatments could benefit mild to moderate depression and anxiety. However, these are not expected to affect suicidal ideation or a psychiatric emergency.
How Your Nutrition Affects How You Feel
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which helps to:
- Regulate sleep and appetite,
- Mediate moods, as well as
- Inhibit pain.
As about 95% of your serotonin is manufactured in your gastrointestinal tract, and your gastrointestinal tract is lined by a hundred million nerve cells, or neurons, it makes perfect sense that the inner works of your digestive system don’t just assist you to digest food but also direct your emotions.
What’s more, the purpose of these neurons — and the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin — is highly influenced by the umpteen good bacteria which make up your intestinal microbiome. These bacteria play a vital role in your health:
- They protect the lining of your intestines as well as ensuring that they provide a strong barrier against toxins in addition to bad bacteria,
- They prevent inflammation;
- They enhance how well you absorb nutrients from your food; and
- They are responsible for activating neural pathways which travel directly between the gut as well as the brain.
Studies have associated “traditional” diets, like the Mediterranean diet and the traditional Japanese diet, with a typical “Western” diet and have demonstrated that the risk of depression is 25% to 35% lower in those who consume a traditional diet.
Scientists explain this difference owing to the fact that these traditional diets tend to be high in:
- Unprocessed grains, as well as
- Fish and seafood.
In addition, they contain only slight amounts of lean meats and dairy. They also don’t have processed and refined foods as well as sugars, which is a staple of the “Western” dietary pattern. As well, many of these unprocessed foods are fermented which means that they thus act as natural probiotics.
This may sound farfetched but the idea that good bacteria not only influences what your gut digests and absorbs however that they also affect the extent of inflammation across your entire body, in addition to your mood and energy level, is getting traction among researchers.
The saying ‘you are what you eat’ is very true – it’s not just an old wives’ tale. Learn more about nutrition by going on our Specialised Nutrition Course. For more information, please follow this link.