By : Saloni Deshmukh (Nutrition and Fitness Blogger)
60

Curing the Mind through Stomach

Along with physical health, mental health is equally important for a person’s overall well-being. Mental health includes our psychological and emotional well-being. Times like the COVID pandemic with people losing their loved ones, losing jobs, constant fear, puts a burden on mental health. A research study found the global prevalence estimate as 28.0% for depression; 26.9% for anxiety; 24.1% for post-traumatic stress symptoms; 36.5% for stress; 50.0% for psychological distress; and 27.6% for sleep problems. Data are limited for other aspects of mental health issues.

 

The mental health of a person depends on many factors like social, financial, personal, and gut. Yes, you read it correctly microbes in your gut can influence your mental health. The human gastrointestinal tract has around half a billion (500,000,000) neurons which are the same number as our second brain, the spinal cord has. The gut has its own nervous system that may be as strong as our brain. The gut has as many neurotransmitters as the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers of our body.

 

According to popular belief, the brain sends signals to our body to take action and function properly. But actually, it is both way street. Most of the signals travel from gut to brain and not from the brain to gut. Along with different microbes and chemicals, the gut also contains almost 70 to 75 percent of the immune cells.

 

 

Many inflammatory problems have been related to changes in the intestine surroundings, or microbiome (a hundred trillion bugs residing on our skin, in our mouths, gut, and somewhere else on our bodies). Gut bacteria are crucial to our immunity, useful for digestion, assist metabolism, and ward off dangerous bacteria. Stress, pollutants, and processed food can upset the bacterial balance, inflicting the immune centers to launch chemical compounds that trigger inflammation and might lead to disorder. If the transmission is bidirectional, stress-related fluctuations to the microbiome may additionally have an effect on mental function and behavior.

This shows that a way for mental well-being passes through our abdomen. A nutritious, well-balanced diet can help us to think more clearly and keep us alert. On the other hand, insufficient diet can result in fatigue poor decision-making and can slow down the reflex speed. If it continues, it can get worse and lead to anxiety and depression.

 

Processed Food

Have you noticed most of the junk food you eat is addictive and leads to dopamine secretion in our brain? Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter and is associated with the feeling of pleasure. The more you consume processed food the more you crave it. The best way to control these cravings is to stop the consumption of processed food.

 

Processed foods mainly contain white flour and added sugar which can result in inflammatory disorders which can lead to mental disorders including stress, depression, and anxiety. When we feel stressed we search for comfort food which is 99 percent of the time, unhealthy junk food. And this vicious cycle continues. Also when stressed either we overeat or skip the meals. Overeating may make your brain feel sluggish. Undereating leads to exhaustion, mental and physical both.

 

To balance your mental health add more fruits and vegetables to your diet along with good fats like omega-3 fatty acids. Specifically, dark green vegetables are good for the brain. Also, nuts, beans, lentils, and seeds are great choices for mental wellbeing.

 

 

Carbohydrates and Proteins

The brain and its large web of neurons are mainly made of fats. But the communication channel through which they pass their signals is made up of proteins. The chemical changes in our bodies are mainly due to hormones and enzymes. These hormones and enzymes are also made of proteins.

 

Meal high in carbohydrates can make one feel lethargic. Conversely, having a high-protein meal keeps you alert throughout the day. The brain messenger cells that we have been talking about, are made up of amino acids and amino acids are basically proteins.

 

Carbohydrates can make you feel lethargic and tired because they increase secretion of the amino acid called Tryptophan. Tryptophan, in turn, leads to an increase in the level of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that makes you feel calmed and relaxed. Serotonin play important role in sleep functioning, blood pressure, and appetite.

 

Consuming protein boosts the ranges of some other amino acid known as tyrosine, which stimulates the mind to produce norepinephrine and dopamine, which are another type of chemical messengers our brain has. Not as well-known as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine can hold you energized due to the fact they are responsible for alertness and activeness.

 

This does not mean you should gorge on only protein and avoid carbohydrates completely. The brain produces thousands of neurotransmitters for which protein is required. But carbohydrates are required by the brain to fuel up, repair, and maintain brain cells. For the proper balance of these nutrients, you can choose GRD superior protein products with healthy combinations of all the nutrients. These products have helped many to reach their health goals.

 

Probiotics

Probiotics are basically good bacteria in your gut. Our body has both good and bad bacteria. When the amount of bad bacteria increases it disrupts the body with infections, digestion issues and which in turn affects our mental health. Maintaining a balance of these bacteria is really important for our overall health.

 

The probiotic foods you can add to your diet are yogurt, buttermilk, cottage cheese, kombucha, idli, dosa, fermented pickle. Basically, all fermented foods which have a live and active culture in them.

 

Mindful Eating

Along with “what you eat”, “how you eat” is also important. Avoid eating while stressed, calm your mood, relax and then have a proper well balanced meal. Eating while watching television can lead to overeating. Split your meals throughout the day into small portions. Plan your meals in advance to avoid quick-pick junk food when hungry.

 

Active lifestyle

Physical exercise is as important as diet for mental health. Get active at least twice or thrice a week. Practice meditation and yoga. Lifestyle with proper diet and exercise will help you keep yourself healthy, mentally as well as physically.

 

 

Share On

TAGS

Related Articles