Food is Medicine for Mind & Mood
In many ways our food choices affect how we feel- not just whether we are hungry or full. It's becoming clear that when we don't eat enough nutrient-rich foods, the body may lack what it needs and that will affect our energy, mood and brain function. Mental Health disciplines are paying close attention and supporting the nutrition connection.
Depression & Anxiety
Nutrition therapy is proving to be an important part in the treatment of depression and anxiety. The research is showing that addressing inflammation and gut health should accompany other therapies.
Omega-3 seem to be especially important for a well-functioning central nervous system and for the transmission of signals to and from the brain. There is a growing evidence that omega-3's can restore structural integrity to brain cells that are critical in performing cognitive functions.
Eating fish twice a week would provide enough Omega-3's, and for non-fish eaters, a quality supplement is a great substitute. For non fish eaters, I recommend 700 to 1,000 mg of EPA and 200 to 500 mg of DHA daily supplementation.
If probiotics are the healthy bacteria in our gut, then pre biotics are the fertilizer that keep them healthy. There's growing evidence that gut bacteria really might influence our minds. the specific mix of microbes in our guts might help determine what kinds of brains we have — how our brain circuits develop and how they're wired. So pick up a container of yogurt with live active cultures or a good quality probiotic supplement and eat plenty of fruits and veggies and limit processed foods.
Tiredness & Brain Fog
Check to make sure you are not iron deficient/anemic. Consider eating more iron rich foods such as: Lean meats, eggs, beans and fortified cereals. Ask your doctor about an iron supplement if you have iron deficiency anemia. In many patients with pre-diabetes or insulin resistance these are common complaints Consider limiting sweets and sugars, as well as balancing meals to include some lean proteins in meals and snacks.
Mood Disorders & Irritability
These symptoms can be related to many nutritional issues and are hard to pinpoint. The B vitamins (Thiamin, Niacin and B-12) may be lacking. and can heighten symptoms as well. Consider fortified foods including wholegrain cereals, meat/fish, eggs and dairy. If you are vegan or are having these symptoms, consider mentioning this to your doctor and checking for B-12 deficiency. Omega 3's are again showing helpful in benefiting those with mood disorders as well.
As a rule, eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, wholegrain foods, with enough lean protein foods, including omega-rich fish, and nuts and seeds will provide a good supply of nutrients to the brain. Further, including more pro-biotics in our diet through fermented foods and high quality yogurt will benefit mind and mood as well. No side effects by eating right!
DeCaille is a Registered Dietitian and owner of Envision Nutrition. Her signature product, N.O.S.H Box, is a kit for families to practice healthy meal balancing. Children and teens often need outside home support, helpful tools, and coaching to make healthy transitions. Appointments can be scheduled online at www.envision-nutrition.com or calling 678-561-6674 Ext 1.