As we begin our day we have observed our mother’s being worried about what food to prepare for the entire day. To relieve her of the pressure our instant reaction is, suggesting things that are quick and easy to prepare. We all are aware that food or our dietary habits are connected to our physical well-being. What we are not aware of is the relationship between dietary habits and mental health. Surprised? YES, this is the new most talked about science ‘Nutritional Psychiatry’.
Let us first try and understand how this works:
Our Gastro Intestinal tract (GI tract) is the house of billions of bacteria. These bacteria are responsible for the production of neurotransmitters and certain chemical substances that carry messages from our gut to the brain. Dopamine and serotonin are examples of these neurotransmitters.
This biome of bacteria develops with the help of the nutrients in the food. When we eat healthy food the bacterial growth increases and hence the release of neurotransmitters. The brain gets a signal of wellbeing and reflects it in our emotions of happiness, content, satisfaction, and love.
Unhealthy foods like junk food and high sugar foods cause inflammation of the body and hampers the production of neurotransmitters. This leads to emotions of sadness, depression, and anxiety. Sugar-rich food temporarily raises the level of dopamine giving a good feeling followed by a sudden drop leading to anxiety. Researches have shown that mental illnesses like schizophrenia, OCD, depression, dementia, anxiety are all are associated with dietary habits.
Healthy Dietary Pattern
Food rich in Omega3 fatty acids, Proteins, Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B, Antioxidants, and Fiber, is the source of both physical and mental health. Some of the food items that are rich in these are fruits, vegetables, nuts, olive oil, fish, whole grains, beans, berries, leafy vegetables, and mushrooms.
Unhealthy Diet Plan
Some of the unhealthy food items which wreck our mental health include refined grains, red and processed meats, sweets, high-fat dairy items, butter, and potatoes.
Plan your plate
Be it male or female, young or old if you have been living, eating unhealthy food items, and have observed mood swings in your lifestyle, it is time to switch. Remember it is never too late. The sooner you start the sooner you benefit. It is not possible for anyone to completely reverse or change their lifestyle with a flip of fingers. You need to start with small steps. Say start with including fruits in your diet plan for a week. The next week add some whole grains to your diet plan omitting the refined flour you have been using. So on and so forth. If need be consult a nutritionist to help you plan.