Could Your Diet Impact Your Mental Health?

Wellness with a Wow

Could Your Diet Impact Your Mental Health?

Government figures show more than 16 million American adults report having a major episode of depression in the past year. Women are affected more often than men. A new field of study, nutritional psychiatry, looks at how diet can improve mental health. Its something we don’t often think about but there’s new research how healthy food can boost your mood.

According to experts, a  Mediterranean diet can help.  A Mediterranean diet is traditionally followed in Greece, Crete, southern France, and parts of Italy that emphasizes fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, olive oil (as opposed to butter) and grilled or steamed chicken and seafood (as opposed to red meat).

Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. The diet has been associated with a lower level of oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the “bad” cholesterol that’s more likely to build up deposits in your arteries.

Boosting your mood might mean improving your gut bacteria?!!! 

If you doubt the connection between your mood and the critters in your gut, you must read Peter Andrey Smith’s recent piece in the New York Times called Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Explain Your Mood? Not to ruin the suspense, but considering all the optimistic studies Smith includes, the answer is a resounding YES.

Findings from a new study at Oregon State University found that a diet high in sugar caused changes in the gut bacteria of mice, impairing the mice’s ability to adjust to changing situations, called “cognitive flexibility.” The change in gut bacteria also negatively affected the mice’s long-term and short-term memory.

Fermented food is the best kind of probiotic you can feed your gut, because it typically provides a broad combination of bacteria — so chances are greater that you’ll get a useful bacteria. Fermentation is by no means a new health movement. People were fermenting food more than 8,000 years ago. In fact, only recently — since the invention of the refrigerator — have we not placed a priority on consuming fermented foods, which may be part of the reason we have less of a diversity of gut bugs than we used to. One of the easiest, most common fermented products is yogurt (but make sure it is unsweetened). Other examples are kefir, kimchee, sauerkraut, pickles, and kombucha tea. Note: Be careful about alcohol content in some fermented drinks. I didn’t realize that certain kombucha teas and kefir can have a higher alcoholic percentage than beer — a problem for a recovering alcoholic.

LISTEN NOW: Diabetes Late Nite featuring music by Gladys Knight & The Pips. Guests include Stacey Harris aka ‘The Diabetic Pastry Chef’,  Tamara  Sellman from SleepyHead Central,Mary Ann Hodorowicz, RD, LDN, MBA, CDE, CEC,  the Charlie’s Angels of Outreach, Poet Lorraine Brooks and Mama Rose Marie.

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