Our brain and body are connected. As research evolves, we are learning more and more about the importance of the food that we eat on our mental health. Science is showing that what we eat effects our brain. In fact, we are learning now that 90% of Serotonin is made in your gut. Serotonin helps us to manage our mood. And what effects our brain effects our mood and mental health. Knowing this, we can be mindful of what we eat and how it effects our mental health. Unresolved stress and trauma in our life effects our mood. What we eat can help us to feel better or make us feel worse.
Where there is mental illness there is digestive dis-ease. As a mental health therapist, I have been fascinated by the effects of food, nutrition and digestion on mental health. I think the pendulum is starting to swing from using pharmaceuticals as the first-line approach to treating mental health issues to using food as medicine and other holistic and lifestyle changes for whole health and wellness.
NINE IMPORTANT THINGS TO THINK ABOUT WHEN USING NUTRITION TO SUPPORT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Use a Food Mood Diary. One way of being mindful of what you"re eating and how it makes you feel is by keeping a food mood diary. Explore what you are eating, when you eat and why you eat. Make connections to what you eat and your mood. Also, look at how you feel after eating certain foods. Do you feel better or worse?
Practice nutritional self-care. We can use nutritional self-care to be mindful of what we eat and how it effects our mood. Nutritional self-care is often forgotten when we think of self-care. We can expand our idea of caring for ourselves beyond just caring for our bodies through exercise or our caring about our minds through breath work or mindfulness. We need to be thoughtful of what we feed our brain and body so that we can feel our best.
Think of Food as Pharmacy. We can use certain foods to help with mood. Some examples of foods that support positive mental health include: dark chocolate, coconut oil, sweet potatoes, eggs and dark cherries.
Gut Brain Connection. Avoid processed foods, eliminate sugar and eat fermented foods. Reducing inflammation in our gut and body helps us to be mentally and physically healthy and resilient to life stressors.
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