Author: Kaylee Noland
Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you areAnthelme Brillat-Savarin
Optimal health consists of feeling balanced physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually. Our past, current experiences, relationships, habits, exercise and even what we eat all have an effect on these areas of our health! Feeling better mentally helps us feel better physically, and feeling better emotionally helps us feel better spiritually and believe it or not nourishing food has a holistic effect on all of it!
Nutrition often plays an undervalued and overlooked role with respect to mental health. Nourishing the brain with nutrient-dense food is essential in helping support a myriad of areas in mental health.
Research has shown that B vitamins, cortisol and gut health all have a major effect on mental health, brain/hormone production and neurotransmitter activity. For example, B vitamins help the brain manage neurotransmitters as well as serotonin production. These vitamins are water-soluble, this means that they can’t be stored in the body long term. Therefore, people must get them through certain foods and restore these levels every day. B vitamins may be depleted by alcohol, refined sugars, stress, nicotine, and caffeine. For instance, Vitamin B12 deficiency has been found in many patients who have depression or decreased attention, concentration, and memory.
Cortisol (our major stress hormone) additionally has a major effect on our mental health. Prolonged elevated levels of cortisol can result in disruption of almost all of the body’s processes such as making other hormones: dopamine, and serotonin. Thus, this may lead to various types of anxiety and depression. How do I lower my cortisol you may ask? Exercise, therapeutic herbal supplements and foods can all help support in lowering cortisol levels which help support all of the other hormones that affect day to day moods.
Lastly, gut health has been shown to have an extreme influence in mental health. The gut microbiome contains trillions of bacteria, both beneficial probiotics and harmful pathogens. When the gut is in healthy balance the probiotics outnumber pathogens. This contributes to good health in hundreds of significant ways such as mental health. Disruptions to the gut microbiome have been correlated with several neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism, ADHD, schizophrenia, anxiety and depression.
All in all, proper nutrition is essential in supporting mental health. Whether you have general brain fog or are diagnosed with depression, anxiety, ADHD, etc. proper nutrition supports moods, the gut, neurotransmitter in the brain and all of our hormones that influence how we feel.