Food & Mood
Although many of us are aware that eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water is good for our physical health, the importance of a healthy and balanced diet for good mental health is less often talked about.
There is a growing interest amongst researchers about how the food that we eat can have an impact on our mental health. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that supports the idea ‘we are what we eat’, reflecting the idea that what we fuel our body with, impacts on how it functions. The brain, which like all other organs, needs proper nourishment in order to function and thrive; and certain foods can improve our moods by providing us with more energy, boosting our immune system so that we don’t become physically ill (which impacts on our moods), and improves our sleep, so that our moods are better during waking hours.
There are many explanations for the cause-and-effect relationship between food and mood. The following are some examples:
Fluctuations in blood sugar levels are associated with changes in mood and energy, and are affected by what we eat.
Brain chemicals (neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine and acetylcholine) influence the way we think, feel and behave. They can be affected by what we’ve eaten.
There can be abnormal reactions to artificial chemicals in foods, such as artificial colourings and flavourings.
There are reactions that can be due to the deficiency of an enzyme needed to digest a food. Lactase, for instance, is needed to digest lactose (milk sugar); without it, a milk intolerance can build up.
People can become hypersensitive to foods. This can cause what are known as delayed or hidden food allergies or sensitivities.
Low levels of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids can affect mental health, with some symptoms associated with particular nutritional deficiencies. For example, links have been demonstrated between low levels of certain B-vitamins and symptoms of schizophrenia, low levels of the mineral zinc and eating disorders, and low levels of omega-3 oils and depression
Optimum nutrition provides the raw materials for repair and to rebuild our health, as every single molecule of our bodies is derived from what we eat and drink. Over the last fifty years our diets have changed radically, as has the nutritional content of our food. And it has also become harder to maintain healthy habits when processed and sugary foods are so ubiquitous and our modern lives are becoming busier and often more stressful than ever. During this time there has been a sharp rise in chronic and degenerative health conditions, as well as obesity, so guidance on optimum nutrition has become increasingly important.
if you are considering looking into ways to improve your nutrition as an additional way to support your mental health, contact Kirsten Brooks at Eat Yourself to Health - With a degree in nutritional medicine and 13 years' experience, Kirsten Brooks is able to assess your health, dietary habits and lifestyle to determine the best way to overcome any health complaints you may have and optimise your well-being. She will tailor a diet to your individual requirements, as well as providing advice on preventing future problems. Kirsten also ensures the nutritional plan is realistic, effective and enjoyable as she is aware how busy our modern lifestyles can be, and provides plenty of support and encouragement.