We’ve all heard the saying “you are what you eat”. This applies not only to our bodies but also to our mental health.
It starts in the gut
What’s for dinner?
Is thankfully becoming a question many more mental health professionals are asking.
Many mental health conditions are caused by inflammation in the brain. This causes brain cells to die. But this inflammatory response starts in our gut. Directly linked to a deficiency of nutrients from food like magnesium, omega-3fatty acids, probiotics and essential vitamins and minerals.
Food allergies are now also thought to play a possible role in Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder.
Poor diet, too much added sugar and sedentary lifestyles can increase our risk of depression and anxiety. In fact, too much added sugar reduces production of a protein called BDNF. Our brains can’t form new memories, we can’t learn. Low levels are linked to depression and dementia.
Lack of sleep influences hormones that affect our hunger resulting in a whole lot of overeating and cravings.
It can all become a vicious circle.
We don’t fuel our bodies, so we lack energy then we don’t exercise. We are constantly tired, stressed, lethargic, fatigued and probably not sleeping well either. Sound familiar?
So, here we are back where we started.
How do you break the cycle and start caring for your mental health?
A nutrient dense diet and an enjoyable exercise routine have significantly beneficial impacts on our mental wellbeing. Many doctors (although in my opinion still not enough) are now taking the “Integrative” approach to physical and mental health. Taking into consideration all factors that influence health, wellness and disease. Mind, body and spirit.
Improve your nutrition.
You don’t have to take an all or nothing approach. There is information overload on what we should and shouldn’t eat. When and how we should eat. How much and how little we should eat.
Keep it simple. Plenty of nutrient dense, whole foods. A good balance of Carbohydrates, Proteins and healthy Fats and a whole lot less sugar.
If you are not are sure, get yourself a Nutrition Coach or a good Personal Trainer.
Get up and move!
Exercise releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin. The “happy” hormone. Basically, this makes us feel good. It reduces immune system chemicals that can make depression worse. So, if you want more energy, a sharper mind and to sleep better…. Implement an exercise schedule.
Join a gym. Try some classes. Training in a group can be fun and motivating. Make your training varied. Train with a friend. Maybe get yourself a personal trainer.
Change your habits. Set some SMART goals. Start small and don’t be too hard on yourself. You will be surprised at how quickly your energy levels change and how much better you feel.
Start to look after YOU!