A person suffering from depression took a counselling session from a renowned psychiatrist. Midway through the session, the psychiatrist asked, “What are you having for lunch and dinner on a weekly basis?” The ‘patient’ got startled. He thought, “What has food got to do with the way I’m feeling?” Well, as per various studies, it has been revealed that there is a direct connection between food and mood.
It may be surprising to you, but it’s true. You will get to know all about it here. And if you are a student, you might want to put extra attention. You will get optimum assignment help from this blog.
Analysis of the Connection between Food and Feelings
Serotonin helps in controlling appetite and sleep, mediating moods, and inhibiting pain. Your gastrointestinal tract produces about 95 percent of serotonin and the tract is lined with a hundred million neurons. Hence, it makes sense that your digestive system’s inner workings not only help you digest food, but often direct your emotions.
Furthermore, it has been found that ‘good’ bacteria play an important role in neuron functioning and serotonin production. These bacteria provide resistance against infectious bacteria, thus helping improve nutrient absorption. And, they help in activating pathways directly between the brain and the gut.
Studies have revealed a staggering fact. Traditional diets like Mediterranean and Japanese diet causes 25% to 35% less depression in people than those who follow Western diet. This is because traditional diets are high in fruits, vegetables, grains, fish and seafood, and contains only modest amounts of dairy and lean meats.
So, what type of foods should you consume? Let’s find out.
Healthy Foods You Must Eat
Your brain performs better when it is subjected to premium fuel. The brain is nourished and shielded from oxidative stress by consuming good quality foods that include plenty of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. And there will be less inflammation as well. So, here is a list of food and nutrients that you must eat:
Antioxidants are both produced in your body and found in foods. They prevent cell damage caused by free radicals, which results in oxidative stress.As per FRAP analysis, blueberries have 9.2 nmol of antioxidants per 3.5 ounces (100 grams). In addition to this, you can consume leafy green vegetables, dark chocolate, the spice turmeric and foods with Omega-3 fatty acids, including salmon and black chia seeds.
Dopamine helps in vital brain functioning that affect mood, memory, sleep, concentration, learning, etc. As you can imagine, it is directly related to mental well-being. Now, Folate helps with dopamine production. You will find it in leafy greens, lentils and cantaloupes.
We usually get Vitamin D from sunlight exposure and it is vital for serotonin production. However, there are other sources for Vitamin D, as well. These include mushrooms, especially reishi, cordycep and maitake. Your doctor can also prescribe taking a supplement if you are deficient in vitamin D.
This essential mineral boosts nerve and muscle functioning. It helps in keeping a steady heartbeat. Most importantly, it’s good for food-mood connection. Magnesium deficiency can hurt the gut bacteria result in anxiety and depression. So, you should have dark chocolate, spinach and dark leafy greens, almonds and cashews, beans and bananas.
You will find plenty of fibre in plant-based foods. This allows the body to slowly digest glucose and helps you prevent sugar rushes. Fruits, vegetables, and nutrient-filled carbohydrates, including whole grains and beans, are fiber-rich foods.
Probiotics, live bacteria that are healthy for your digestive tract, are found in fermented foods. Sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh and the fermented drink kombucha are some examples.
As per research, food colorings, preservatives, and other additives may cause or worsen hyperactivity and depression. So, you must eat food that’s minimally processed and consists of healthy ingredients. In this regard, you can think of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Now, you might not be able to change your unhealthy diet all at once. For this, you need to swap diets slow at first. You can trade white rice, and bread for whole-grains. This enhances good fiber in your body, boosting digestion. On the other hand, you can choose a side salad packed with nuts, seeds and colorful vegetables for extra flavor, instead of a bag of chips.
Manage Caffeine and Medication
Caffeine will give you a quick burst of energy. But then may make you feel depressed and anxious, disrupt your sleep or cause withdrawal symptoms if you stop suddenly. Thus, you must try switching to decaffeinated versions.
Next, you must pay extra attention to what you eat if you take the following medications. If you are taking:
You should refrain from eating fermented food, spoiled pickled, smoked, cured, hung, or dried. When food is exposed to the air, tyramine rises to high levels. The interaction between tyramine and the MAOI is detrimental for your mental health.
It is used to treat bipolar disorder and helps reduce the risk of suicide and mania. But you will need to be very careful about the salt and liquid amounts you consume. Otherwise, it may increase the lithium level beyond the prescribed level.
Grapefruit juice does not work well with Buspirone. It affects the way enzymes break down medications, which causes excessive or too little of the drug to be absorbed in to your blood.
As you can see, you must take these things into consideration if you wish to improve your mental health.
Focus on Nutritional Psychiatry
Pay heed to how you feel about eating various foods, not only at the moment, but the next day. Try two or three weeks of eating a “clean” diet, which means no processed food and sugar. Analyze how you’re feeling. Then, one by one, slowly reintroduce foods into your diet to see how you do.
People cannot believe how much better they feel both physically and emotionally when they “go clean.” And when they reintroduce an old diet, they immediately feel the discomfort, inflammations, and even bloated.
Hopefully, you have some insight into the relation between food and mental health. For further insights, you should pore through various resources. And, if you are writing a nursing assignment, do not forget to cite sources in your task.