We know that eating a proper diet can help us maintain our physical health, but the fact is, it may also help us maintain our mental health, too.
Understanding how food affects mental health is vital for improving mood and living our best life.
But how does food affect mental health, and what can you do to support mental wellness in your own life?
Fortunately, at Inositol Australia, we have some of the answers you seek.
How Food Affects Mental Health: The Brain-Gut Connection
While you may not realize it, your brain and your gastrointestinal (GI) tract are very closely linked.
In fact, your gut has similar neurons to the brain. Known as the enteric nervous system (ENS), it is composed of two thin layers of over 100 million nerve cells extending from the esophagus to the rectum.
Serotonin, for example, is a neurotransmitter often linked to how one feels. It helps regulate sleep, appetite, pain, and mood. In fact, 95% of the serotonin in the human body is produced by gut bacteria.
The ‘good’ gut bacteria impact the production of serotonin and the millions of neurons in the gut in the microbiome. This bacteria improves the absorption of nutrients, reduces inflammation, and maintains the pathways from the stomach to the brain.
While there is still significant research that needs to be done, these findings present new opportunities and avenues for managing conditions like depression and anxiety.
Grab These Foods to Improve Mental Health
Mental health is complicated. And depending on the nature of your experience, you may require complex treatment or may experience success through things like diet and exercise. In other cases,
Given the science presented above, it is clear that eating foods that encourage healthy gut bacteria can support both physical and mental wellness.
However, know that no two bodies are the same. Be sure to consult with a general physician before making any choices that could impact your health.
Berries are powerful little bite-sized foods. They are full of antioxidants that can help manage and reduce mood disorders symptoms.
It is currently unclear how exactly these antioxidants carry out this function, but it seems as though they play a role in managing symptoms commonly associated with depression.
Anthocyanin, for example, is an antioxidant responsible for the purple-blue pigment found in many berries (blueberries, blackberries). Studies have found that diets rich in this particular antioxidant are associated with a 39% lower risk of depression symptoms.
Legumes provide an excellent source of plant-based protein and fiber while also providing an array of nutrients that can support mental health. This includes foods like beans, lentils, and peas.
Legumes are rich in B vitamins which have been shown to increase serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. These substances play a critical role in mood regulation.
These foods also contain zinc, magnesium, selenium, and non-heme iron, nutrients that have been linked to improved mood.
If you start each morning with a cup of coffee, you’re in luck! Coffee has been shown to boost both cognition and mood.
While you may think caffeine is giving you a boost, and it undoubtedly helps, scientific studies suggest that it could be other compounds present in coffee. Caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee showed boosted mood when compared to placebo beverages.
However, it is best to drink your coffee black and avoid any added sugar. Sugar can negatively impact mood and concentration levels.
Consider These Supplements to Improve Mental Health
Sometimes the food we eat doesn’t give us all of the good things our body and mind need to function at their best and brightest. And that is where supplementation can come into play.
Here’s a look at a few supplements that can support mental health.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3s are healthy fats that contribute to our overall health.
Deficiencies in omega 3s have been linked to an increased risk of developing psychiatric disorders, including depression and dementia.
They can be found in foods like fatty fish, avocado, and olive oils. But because these foods often carry a significant caloric hit, they aren’t necessarily things we can consume often enough to reap the full benefits.
Taking omega-3 fish oil supplements can help. Studies have found that omega 3 supplements improved depressive episodes in people with major depressive disorder.
Inositol has been a promising supplement for those struggling with depression, anxiety, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
One study found that taking 12g of Inositol a day for six weeks improved baseline cognitive health in 50% of participants with bipolar disorder. Other studies have found it effective in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic disorder.
More research needs to be done to understand how Inositol impacts these conditions and how it can be used most effectively as part of a treatment plan.
Zinc is a metal that plays a significant role in many cellular functions. And to that end, there is increasing evidence that it may also play a role in depression.
One meta-analysis of 17 studies found that people with depression had about 14% less zinc in their blood than other individuals. Research by the University of Newcastle found that the chances of developing depression were 30-50% lower for both men and women with high zinc intake than it was for those with lower levels.
It is also believed that zinc supplementation can boost the effects of antidepressant medications.
What You Eat Can Impact Your Mood
While science continues to explore how food can impact our health, it is evident in the interim that it certainly does.
But the simple reality is that it is not always possible to get all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients we need from our diet. This is where supplementation can help.
Inositol Australia offers high-quality, non-GMO, plant-based Inositol powder for cognitive health. If you want to see what Inositol can do for you, consult with your general physician and see what works best.
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