Nutrition and Mental Health

Recently, I was fortunate enough to see Deepak Chopra speak about a number of things.  One of the issues he touched on was optimal wellness.  Deepak believes that nutrition and nourishment are a core piece of our wellbeing.  I was nodding my head furiously in the audience as I have felt this for a long time.  Did he know? Admittedly, I have been prone to “hangriness” and low blood sugar, as are my daughters. (sorry, girls). I am also surrounded by teachers. Teachers who notice the difference in the little bodies they are trying to engage with the degradation in quality of snacks and lunches that have become the norm over the years. So, Deepak’s comments that night all made sense to me. He also had science behind him and I wanted to know more.

Jamie Street

Additionally, more and more research is surfacing regarding “dirty” ingredients in the products we use every day on our bodies, and how they can affect mental health. This has caused me to look for information on the ingredients we are putting in our bodies, as well. I didn’t have to look far.

In the blog for Mental Health First Aid, March 13, 2018, Amy Magill states that good nutrition is as important to mental health as it is physical health.. . She mentions 8 changes we can make to support our mental health:

  1. Eat at set intervals throughout the day
  2. Choose less refined sugars and eat more whole grains
  3. Include protein at each meal
  4. Eat a variety of foods
  5. Include omega-3 rich foods, like oily fish, in your diet
  6. Reach and maintain a healthy weight
  7. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water
  8. Get regular exercise

I consider myself to be pretty healthy, but when I go down the above list, I’m 50/50. 50/50! That’s probably not great. I am currently not depressed, shelter-at-home aside…. However, research is showing that sound nutritional habits can not only affect our brain’s ability to modify structure, wiring and function (related to anxiety and mental health), but also oxidative stress (cellular damage) and chronic inflammation. Dr. Charles Raison states that with psychiatric stress, inflammation can be equally capable of producing depression, anxiety, fatigue, and social withdrawal.

Avoiding foods that promote inflammation in the body; refined carbohydrates, added sugars, processed foods, sugar-sweetened beverages, processed meats, and white breads and pastries will help your body avoid inflammation triggers. And also, help to keep you on a more even emotional keel, as well. You will feel good. You will want to eat good again because you recognize you feel well. Over time, it will become a good cycle instead of a vicious cycle.

Brooke Lark

Making changes to your nutrition and eating habits will get you on the road to better physical and mental health. As Magill states, it is not a substitute for proper medical care and treatment. If you have concerns about your mental health, please talk to your health care provider today.

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