Your Diet And Mental Health

Ever wonder if what you eat has a direct effect on how you feel? Well, research suggests what we eat has a direct effect on how we feel and our energy levels. Learn more in this article from Ludmila Aramian, board-certified psychiatrist based in New York

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As the common saying goes “you are what you eat.” Thankfully, consumers now are more conscious of what they consume. With the increase of mental health awareness, consumers are analyzing how their diet affects their mental health. While food companies are swaying towards informing all of us the positive effects of vitamins and supplements, there still is not enough research done to say with certainty that what you eat has a direct effect on your mental health. Recently, there has been evidence from a group of researchers showing that simple changes in our diet could change countless lives from a physical state to a mental state. Here’s how your eating lifestyle affects your mental health. 

How food affects your mood: 

A hormone that is potent and important to your normal functions is serotonin. Serotonin is shown to regulate sleep, appetite, and mediate moods. Serotonin occurs naturally in your gut, which is littered with millions of other neurons. These neurons not only help with your digestion, but also lead your emotions. The types of emotions you feel are based on the amount of “good” bacteria that are in your intestines. The good bacteria guard the lining of your gut and fight off toxins and “bad” bacteria by limiting inflammation. Good bacteria also allow you to intake more nutrients from the foods you eat and start neural passages that go from the gut directly to the brain. 

Research shows that there is a wealth of benefits when people take a probiotic supplement. Those benefits include reduced anxiety, reduced stress, and improvement of mental outlook compared to individuals who did not consume probiotics. Individuals who also have a diet with high consumptions of fruits, vegetables, unrefined grains, and seafood are shown to have reduced the risk of depression of 25-35%. These diets also eliminated processed, refined foods and reduce the consumption of meats and dairy. What does this all mean? Good bacteria is shown to have an impact on what your gastrointestinal tract consumes and absorbs. Furthermore, the level of inflammation decreases in your body, which directly affects your mood and energy level. To feel good with your mental health, research suggests it all starts in the gut and ensuring you have a good amount of “good” bacteria. 

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Illustration by: Getty Images, featuring photograph from Lorenzo Antonucci.

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