Food (and mood) Booster!

Food (and mood) Booster!

Hey guys. As a future health practitioner, I wanted to talk about a really important topic that deserves attention. Does eating whole foods {meaning free of refined sugars, artificial ingredients, and chemicals and rich in greens, legumes, and organic meats} really improve our mood? Coming from a history of anxiety/depression, I have learned that the foods I was ingesting were causing some serious side effects to my health.

Take for instance, sugar. The #1 culprit of most diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and yes, even depression. And I’m talking sugar in the form of cakes, cookies, muffins, candy,….you get my drift. Food for the Brain gave this great explanation of how sugar affects out brain:

Eating lots of sugar is going to give you sudden peaks and troughs in the amount of glucose in your blood; symptoms that this is going on include fatigue, irritability, dizziness, insomnia, excessive sweating (especially at night), poor concentration and forgetfulness, excessive thirst, depression and crying spells, digestive disturbances and blurred vision. Since the brain depends on an even supply of glucose it is no surprise to find that sugar has been implicated in aggressive behavior, anxiety, and depression, and fatigue.

Lots of refined sugar and refined carbohydrates (meaning white bread, pasta, rice and most processed foods,) is also linked with depression because these foods not only supply very little in the way of nutrients but they also use up the mood enhancing B vitamins; turning each teaspoon of sugar into energy needs B vitamins. In fact, a study of 3,456 middle-aged civil servants, published in British Journal of Psychiatry found that those who had a diet which contained a lot of processed foods had a 58% increased risk for depression, whereas those whose diet could be described as containing more whole foods had a 26% reduced risk for depression.

Sugar also diverts the supply of another nutrient involved in mood – chromium. This mineral is vital for keeping your blood sugar level stable because insulin, which clears glucose from the blood, can’t work properly without it.

Sooooo as you can see, sugar is something to monitor in our diets. I don’t mean you can’t ever indulge and have that piece of cake on your birthday or have a some treats when you’re out with friends, but keep an eye on how you feel afterwards. If you have a strong reaction and notice that your blood sugar spikes and crashes after or you have insomnia or your PMS systems are even worse, then you may have a real sensitivity to sugar and should keep it to a minimum.

Also, lets talk supplements. There are many different micronutrients that are crucial for our mental health. And if we are deficient in some of these, they can mimic real symptoms of depression. Some include:

Magnesium: Known as the “original chill pill.”In 1968, Wacker and Parisi reported that magnesium deficiency could cause depression, behavioral disturbances, headaches, muscle cramps, seizures, ataxia, psychosis, and irritability – all reversible with magnesium repletion (Deans, 2011).

Zinc: Zinc supplementation is known to have antidepressant effects in humans. Zinc is needed for many  enzymes in our body to work properly. This includes making DNA, cell division, and protein synthesis. The highest amount of this important mineral is found in our brain and a deficiency in zinc can lead to Alzheimer’s, depression, ADHD, aggression, and violence.

Vitamin D: a deficiency in Vitamin D has been linked to depression. We should be getting 5000-10,000IUs a day. (Always check with your healthcare provider beforehand).

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: This is a big one for me. I’m a big believer in the power of fish oil guys. Omega-3’s in the form of fish, flaxseeds, nuts, and even supplement form are crucial for proper brain function, especially for memory and mood. I notice I have less brain fog when I have an optimal amount of Omega-3’s in my diet. For my vegetarian and vegan friends, load up on flaxseeds and even try taking some flaxseed oil every morning.

Eating whole foods rich in fiber, micronutrients, and locally grown, can be extremely beneficial to your health, you mood, your energy levels, and so much more. I try to make this website and my Instagram account a way to show people that there are other whole food options out there (even for things like pizza and desserts!). I’m hoping that spreading the word about how food affects our mood can help people cope with their anxiety and depression symptoms and for them to know that there is a way out. You’re the way out. And it starts with what you are putting into your body. Nourish your body; fuel it, don’t harm it.

 

Be well,

Allie

References

http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/nutritional-deficiencies-that-may-cause-depression/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201106/magnesium-and-the-brain-the-original-chill-pill

http://www.foodforthebrain.org/nutrition-solutions/depression/about-depression.aspx



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