How Your Diet Affects Your Mental Health
How your diet affects your mental health is nothing we haven’t touched on in the past.
The connection between diet and stress/anxiety/depression has been discussed in previous articles but I thought now, with all the horrid “pandemic” shenanigans going on that this would be the perfect time to delve a little deeper. So let’s look into how diet affects your mood.
Does Your Diet Affect Your Mood?
Diet is one of the main factors in decreasing the risk of depression. As explained in Canadian Living magazine: “The foods we eat actually become our brain cells. The brain is mostly made up of essential fatty acids which we must get from our diet in the form of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 is found primarily in fatty fish, while omega-6 is found primarily in vegetable oils.”
What Foods Fight Depression?
Our typical diet usually provides plenty of omega-6 but omega-3 not so much. Since O-6 has pro-inflammatory properties and O-3 has anti-inflammatory ones we must adjust our diet to balance this ratio. Cut down on the highly processed foods which contain a lot of O-6 and up your consumption of fatty fish, chai seeds, walnuts, and flaxseed as well as cooking with olive oil to achieve this goal. If you are not an enthusiastic fish eater an O-3 supplement will be necessary.
Dementia, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder all require plenty of anti-oxidants like Omega-3 to head them off at the pass. Besides the foods mentioned above, colorful vegetables and fruits also pack a whopping amount of anti-oxidants. Five servings of these per day are necessary when possible.
Again thanks to Canadian Living: “healthy bacteria that live inside our intestines make up an ecosystem called the gut microbiome. A diverse microbiome is beneficial to our mental health. A communication pathway between the gut and the brain, called the gut-brain axis, connects the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal track and controls many functions in the body. For example, Serotonin, a key neurotransmitter linked to mood, well being, and happiness, as well as sleep regulation and appetite, is made by the bacteria in the gut.”
How to Balance Gut Bacteria / A Healthy Diet for Mental Health
Both prebiotics and probiotics are needed for a healthy microbiome in order to support mental health. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha, and yogurt are excellent probiotics. Supplements can be substituted to keep your pre- and pro-biotic levels up.
So that being said, here is the rule of thumb list for achieving a healthy diet:
- Whole grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes need to be at the top of your diet plan.
- Two servings of fatty fish per week are next and, failing that, an Omega-3 supplement.
- Eat as many whole foods as possible without added ingredients or a lot of processing.
- Cut down on refined sugars.
- Consume fermented foods on a regular basis.
Natural Supplements for Stress and Anxiety
In addition to a proper diet there are many natural supplements and other natural substances available now that aid in the fight against stress and anxiety. We have linked each of these for you for ordering purposes. Most of these natural supplements for stress and anxiety are at PureFormulas.com. They are all high rated by those who have purchased and tried them, and are pure and high quality products. They also provide free shipping!
1. Rhodiola rosea is an anti-anxiety adaptogen which helps to boost the immune system and improve mental and physical stamina. Adaptogens have been used for centuries to regulate the adrenal stress response, thus helping to reduce the intensity and negative impact of stress. Rhodiola extracts are sold in capsule or tablet form in health food stores.
2. Valerian root is a medicinal herb dating from the time of ancient Greece and Rome. It contains compounds that reduce Gaba breakdown, thereby promoting calmness, improving stress response, and maintaining adequate levels of mood stabilizing brain chemicals. Valerian can be brewed into a tea or taken in pill or liquid form.
3. 5-HTP is derived from the amino acid tryptophan which makes melatonin and serotonin in the body and is used to help promote sleep. We all know that lack of sleep is often a harbinger of stress and anxiety.
4. Ashwagandha is my miracle potion. I do love me a good night’s sleep and one of these a short while before settling in does the trick every time.
5. Vitamin D is so very important for our health and very few people, especially in North America, get a sufficient supply from the sun. Therefore supplements are a necessity to improve anxiety symptoms.
6. B-Complex vitamins help to relieve stress and strengthen the nervous system.
7. Cannabis significantly reduces short term depression, anxiety, and stress.
8. L-Theanine is known to reduce your heart rate during acute stress.
9. Gaba is another of my favorite supplements. In my experience it reduces stress and anxiety very efficiently and in a short period of time.
During these trying times we are forced to live through it is certainly not surprising that more and more people are feeling their stress levels rising through the roof, their anxiety mounting, and depression trying to settle in. I hope that the suggestions above will help all of you to at least hold them all at bay, and to better understand how diet affects your mental health.