Today, people no longer react to hearing that someone they know has depression or anxiety. Psychiatric disorders have become quite common. In the United States alone, ten percent of Americans are taking antidepressants, and among them are patients receiving treatment for psychiatric conditions in addition to depression.
The nutritional Psychiatry has introduced the treatment of mental disorders such as depression and anxiety using a targeted improved nutrition to treat underlying physical illness of the patient.
For example, it has been observed that specific amino acid deficiencies, such as tyrosine, can affect dopamine levels and cause mood swings and depressed or anxious emotional states.
What is the connection between the gut and the brain?
"You are what you eat, digest and absorb." According to nutritional psychiatry, this is very likely. All the helpful nutrients or harmful toxins that you get from the food that enter your stomach contribute to the makeup of your brain.
Science has shown the direct correlation between the gastrointestinal system and the nervous system: what enters the gut subsequently enters the brain, one way or another.
Imagine that your stomach is lined like a strong wall guarded by sentinels and populated by messengers who deliver important information to your brain.
What could happen if this wall was destroyed and the sentries were struck down? The messengers also couldn't deliver the important information that is crucial for your brain.
Serotonin is produced in the intestinal tract
These sentinels are the good bacteria found naturally in your gut, and messengers are neurons in charge of processing and transmitting signals to your brain. For example, one of the "happiness hormones," serotonin, is produced primarily in the gastrointestinal tract.
If toxins and free radicals from food enter your gastrointestinal tract, they will negatively affect your good bacteria, your neurons and your serotonin production and, consequently, your brain.
According to nutritional psychiatry, nutrition affects cognitive aspects
Nutrition in the intestine affects not only the hormonal aspect of the nervous system but also its cognitive aspects. Our parents always told us to eat healthy foods because it would help us do better in school, and this turns out to be true according to science.
In a study conducted in several schools in Durham, UK, the results showed that nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids (given to children in the form of supplemental drinks) helped in the significant reduction of cognitive deficits measured through reading and spelling.
Another study, using omega-3 fatty acids combined with micronutrients, was conducted in children from Australia and Indonesia and offered similar results.
Tests to evaluate nutritional deficiencies
In nutritional psychiatry, doctors perform a psychiatric evaluation on a patient using laboratory tests to determine what vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients the patient is lacking.
Some specialists examine these factors through a nutritional assessment, asking basic questions such as which foods the patient eats frequently and which they avoid, foods they have never eaten or to which they are allergic, and similar inquiries.
For nutritional psychiatry these evaluations are important
If you are concerned about your mental health and want to try the nutritional approach, you may want to be evaluated as follows:
· Vitamin levels
· Blood glucose
· Sodium and potassium levels
· Thyroid activity
· Sleep quality
· Brain allergies
· Mood levels
· Memory and cognition
The importance of determining responses to these assessments is based on the fact that certain physical and mental conditions are caused by the deficiency of one or more specific nutrients. Low levels of vitamin D3, for example, are associated with fatigue and other symptoms of depression.
What types of foods support mental and brain health?
Now that we have established how the foods, we eat affect our mental health, we can personally discover how we can achieve a healthier emotional and psychiatric state through improvements in our diet. To help you get started, here is a list of natural foods and how they can contribute to your overall mental health.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids improve cognitive health, aid in the transmission of "happy hormones" such as serotonin and dopamine, and are anti-inflammatory.
They help the production of serotonin, reduce the risk of depression, raise energy levels and improve mood.
Vegetables and fruits rich in folate, vitamins B and E, and trace minerals
They have antidepressant effects, fight fatigue and insomnia, repair tissues, reduce the risk of dementia.
• Romaine lettuce
• Mustard greens
They help the transmission of the "hormones of happiness", promote cognitive improvement, and decrease the risk of depression.
• Ginkgo Biloba
• Red wine
• Citrus fruits
• Green tea
Regulates mood, fights depression, preserves cognition in older people.
• Fatty fish • Fish
• Cow's milk
• Soy milk
Nutritional psychiatrists recommend eating more fruits, vegetables, fish, and other natural food products that help elevate your mood and relieve symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Try replacing your burger, fries, and soda with fish like tuna or salmon, green leafy vegetables like spinach, and unsweetened yogurt, and watch your mood and cognitive ability improve after a few days.
Coming to the food options, there is no single belly-busting food that can help you. However, what’s needed is that you become smarter with the choices you make. A good way to start off would be by making some simple meal swaps or cutting out your regular snacks. Liquid calories could be a big contributor too. Ditch out sugary drinks, alcohol and heavy smoothies for simpler, low-calorie drinks.