Mental Health

Does Diet Affect Our Mental Health?

Does Diet Affect Our Mental Health?

Does Diet Affect Our Mental Health? 1920 1080 Abbe Lang

Many people believe that diet and nutrition have little to do with mental or emotional health. Yet, numerous studies prove that nutrient deficiencies and imbalances adversely affect the way we think and feel.

After all, the brain and the nervous system are very important parts of our physical bodies and need to be nourished, just like the other organs in our body. With a healthy body and brain, we produce the endorphins needed to feel optimistic, happy, and balanced. These “feel-good” endorphins help us cope with the stresses of everyday life.

LOW BLOOD SUGAR

One important factor in your mental health is low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). When our blood sugar drops lower than it should be, we can feel anxious, nervous, depressed, and angry. Daily binging on sugar not only causes low blood sugar; it also releases dopamine, a feel-good chemical in the brain; this results in fewer dopamine receptors and a need for greater amounts of sugar to feel good. To prevent low blood sugar, it is important to eat healthy, nutrient-dense foods.

THE GUT-BRAIN CONNECTION

Scientists and health practitioners have discovered that good health, including mental health, begins in the gut. When we have an abundance of beneficial gut flora, these microorganisms produce feel-good chemicals. When an overgrowth of candida and fungi overpopulates the intestinal tract, these microorganisms produce neurotoxins that can cause everything from ADD to depression. Genetically modified foods, antibiotics, chlorinated and fluoridated water, and concentrated sweeteners can destroy beneficial gut bacteria.

THYROID DISORDERS AND MENTAL HEALTH

Poor thyroid function can result in mental health disturbances. People with an overactive thyroid may be anxious, tense, moody, impatient, irritable, and depressed. People with an underactive thyroid may lose interest and initiative, have slow mental processing and memory, and may suffer from depression. Iodine and Vitamin A are key nutrients for healthy thyroid function.

MODERN DIET AND THE NERVOUS SYSTEM

Many food products and beverages in the modern diet can affect the nervous system and lead to depression and mental illness.

REFINED SWEETENERS: sugar, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose

MODERN VEGETABLE OILS: hardened shortenings, margarines, spreads and liquid oils MSG, almost all processed foods contain MSG, even low-fat dairy products

ADDITIVES: Artificial dyes, flavorings, and preservatives

WHEAT: And other gluten-containing products, poor digestions, and leaky gut.

SOY: Depresses thyroid function

ASPARTAME: Associated with panic attacks, depression, memory problems

GMOs: Disrupt gut flora

The following nutrients are very important to your mental health.

Vitamin A: Think cod liver oil

Vitamin D: Think Cod liver oil

Vitamin B: Think nuts and grains

Vitamin B3: Think grass-fed meat and seafood.

Folate: Think leafy green vegetables.

Vitamin B6: Think bananas.

Vitamin B-12: Think grass-fed meat and seafood.

Vitamin C: think fresh fruits and Vegetables.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Think Cod Liver Oil

Zinc: Think grass-fed red meat or oysters.

Cholesterol: think grass-fed animal fats.

Glycin: Think homemade bone broth.

The Importance of Exercise and Diet on Your Mental Health

The Importance of Exercise and Diet on Your Mental Health

The Importance of Exercise and Diet on Your Mental Health 1920 1080 Abbe Lang

Eating healthy, well-balanced meals and getting regular exercise are important habits for good mental health. Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet can reduce stress, anxiety, depression and improve your sleep

Both can also support weight loss and weight management, leading to increased energy, fewer mood fluctuations, more endurance, improved ability to focus, a strong sense of well-being, and an overall happier outlook.  

Exercise

Any form of exercise can reduce stress and anxiety, improve your sleep, and positively affect your mental health. For the most benefit, aim for at least 20-30 minutes a day. Even a 10-minute ‘energy’ walk can help lift your mood and increase energy levels. 

Exercise should be fun, so find something you enjoy doing. You might find an exercise class on YouTube to take, go for a walk with your neighbor, or try something new like HIIT, Pilates, or TRX. Add a variety of exercises to your routine, so you don’t get bored.

When the sun is shining, take a break from your computer screen and go for a walk. Sunshine is a natural ‘pick-me-up’ that stimulates the natural production of serotonin in the brain. If you exercise daily, it will have a positive effect on your mental health. 

Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is important. For example, a deficiency in folic acid can cause depression and personality change. A lack of Vitamin B-12 can contribute to memory problems and depression. Minerals also help prevent irritability, depression, and mood swings and include calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium, and zinc. A healthy diet plays a key role in maintaining good mental health. What can you do?

  1. Start your day with a healthy breakfast
  2. Eliminate highly processed foods
  3. Choose lean sources of protein and build a meal around vegetables
  4. Drink plenty of water throughout the day
  5. Include dark, leafy greens 
  6. Enjoy healthy fats from nuts, avocadoes, and olive oil.

The benefits of a healthy diet combined with exercise go far beyond physical appearance. Both can have a positive effect on your mental health. 

Moving on From Childhood Trauma to Live Your Best Life

Moving on From Childhood Trauma to Live Your Best Life

Moving on From Childhood Trauma to Live Your Best Life 1920 1080 Abbe Lang

If you suffered childhood trauma or have been through a lot, you may have, or still are, experiencing depression, anxiety, and stress. You may focus on habitual thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that literally take control of your brain and way of life. While these may start out as a way of survival in childhood, your mind and body develop and continue protective tactics, especially when going through something challenging.

The problem is they tend to stay around long after the trauma has occurred and can be crippling, leaving a dark cloud that hovers over our lives. After experiencing childhood trauma, whether it is physically, mentally, or emotionally, your ‘fight or flight’ system can be activated all the time. 

For some, this never gets turned off, and we live with a chronic stress response, haunted by a constant sense of fear that restricts our thoughts, emotions, reactions, and behaviors that were conditioned by that childhood trauma long after it is gone. 

We can heal our brains by making a shift in our mindset. We do not have to remain stuck in what happened and can choose to think differently, interpret our world differently, see a brighter future, and embrace hope and joy, intentionally. Our brain is capable of healing and change so you can find your way back to yourself again. Here are some steps to take to retrain your brain:

  • Take care of your body because that will help improve your mental health.
  • Treat yourself with kindness, respect, and avoid negative self-talk. 
  • Take the time to meditate to quiet your mind – close your eyes and focus on your breath.
  • Create a mantra to repeat to yourself, “I am happy” or “Today is beautiful.”
  • Write down what you are grateful for to focus on the positive in your life.

You can move on from childhood trauma and live your best life by transforming a negative into a positive. We all have thoughts that might dominate our minds. 

Whatever it is, take that main issue or troubling memory and turn it into an affirmation. I have found Katie Byron’s The Work to be very helpful in reframing your destructive thinking patterns.