How Nutrition Affects Mental Health? Find out more.

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Nutrition Blog

The closed connection between diet and emotions arises from the close relationship between your brain and your gastrointestinal tract. This is often called a person’s ‘second brain’. Here’s how it works.

Your GI tract is home to billions upon billions of bacteria which have an influence the production of neurotransmitters. These are chemical substances which constantly carry messages from the gut to your brain. (Dopamine and serotonin are two of the most common examples.)

If you eat healthy food, this promotes the growth of good bacteria, which in turn affects neurotransmitter production positively. A steady diet of junk food, conversely, can cause inflammation which hampers production. When neurotransmitter production is in excellent shape, your brain gets these positive messages loud and clear. Your emotions reflect it. However when production goes wrong, so may your mood.

Sugar, in particular, is considered to be a major culprit of inflammation. In addition, it feeds bad bacteria in the GI tract. Oddly, it can also cause a temporary spike in feel-good neurotransmitters, such as dopamine. That isn’t good for you either. The result is a fleeting sugar rush which is followed shortly thereafter by a crash which is terrible for your mood.

When you stick with a diet of healthy food, you’re setting yourself up for a lot less mood fluctuations, an overall happier outlook as well as an improved ability to focus. Studies have even discovered that healthy diets can assist with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Diets which are not healthy have been linked to an increased risk of dementia or stroke.

What Does Nutritional Psychiatry Mean For You?

Begin paying close attention to how eating a variety of foods makes you feel — not just in the moment, but also the next day. Try to eat a clean diet for two to three weeks. This means cutting out all processed foods as well as sugar. See how you feel. Then introduce foods slowly back into your diet, one by one so that you can see how you feel.

When some people ‘go clean’, they cannot believe how much better they feel both physically and emotionally as well as how much worse they then feel when they reintroduce the foods which are known to promote inflammation.

Sharing Meals With Other People

There are many psychological, social as well as biological benefits of eating meals with other people. They give us a sense of rhythm, in addition to regularity, in our lives as well as a chance to reflect on the day in addition to feeling connected to others. Biologically speaking, eating in upright chairs assists with our digestion. Also, talking and listening slows us down so we don’t eat too quickly.

Make sure that you make the most of mealtimes by setting aside at least one day a week to eat with your family and friends. Choose a meal which is easy to prepare so it doesn’t become a chore. Share responsibility so that everyone has a different task: doing the shopping, setting the table, cooking or washing up, for instance. Keep the TV off so that you can all talk and share.

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