Doesn’t food make you happy? When you eat your favorite snack, notice the surge of energy in your body. Moreover, if you skip breakfast or do not get your regular black coffee in the morning, your day will start on an edgy note. There is a profound association between food and mood, which brings us to the topic of nutritional psychiatry.
Our brain controls every physical and psychological activity, even when we are sleeping. So the diet we put in our system consequently affects the state of our mind. Let’s explore how food can make you a happier person.
The Gut and Brain Connection
When food can influence the way you feel or think, it opens up immense opportunities to cure mental disorders. Nutritional psychiatry is a discipline starting to develop as an intervention dealing with psychiatry cases. Medical professionals often skip dietary interventions, which otherwise can highly improve the patient’s condition.
According to Nutritional Psychiatry food plays a significant role in controlling our emotions. It was a holistic approach adopted by ancient healers to boost mood and also as sedatives. The gut-brain axis depends on the functioning of vagus nerves and the serotonin neurotransmitter.
In terms of human anatomy, the vagus nerve that helps regulate the functioning of the heart, lungs, digestion, blood pressure connects the brain to the body, including the gut. It transmits signals in both ways.
Now diseases attack your body when there is an imbalance of good and bad bacteria. Proper nutrition can help the body retain healthy bacteria or microbes. They can enhance your immune system, reduce inflammation, help absorb nutrients from food. These microbes that live in your digestive tract from the intestinal microbiome also produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). The SCFA regulates the gut and brain signaling. A study claims that SCFAs can help improve stress-induced brain-gut alteration.
Serotonin neurotransmitters are other mediators of gut-brain association. The GI tract produces around 90% serotonins that controls your appetite, mood, sleep, and inhibit pain. Here again, the good bacteria influence serotonin neurons and several other neurons to guide our emotional behavior.
Studies claim that people who take probiotics, which contain good bacteria, has helped them overcome stress and gain a positive mental outlook. Some cannabis Sativa users also believe that the herb can help improve gut health. So the food you consume communicates with the nervous system to maintain mood and behavior. For instance, sugary foods and refined carbohydrates increase insulin level, which again leads to inflammation. Along with causing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, it can also cause mental health conditions. Once you start craving for it, these can become addictive.
How can You Maintain Nutrition to Stay Happy?
There are some strategies you can adopt to stay happy
Eat Often- Small meals or snacks at frequent intervals can help maintain blood sugar levels. These meals will ensure your body is getting a sufficient supply of fuel from food to maintain the mood. Try including nutrient-rich foods like fruits, nuts, and vegetables.
Avoid Skipping Meals- A habit you need to avoid to achieve a healthy life is skipping meals. Understanding the tight schedule, try to plan out meals that can squeeze into it. Skipping meals will make you want to overeat later. Your body will not be able to digest the food at its natural pace. Also, hunger can get you into a bad mood.
Avoid Processed Foods- It is crucial to understand the necessity of a clean diet. As mentioned above, refined carbohydrates can harm your health and mood. Cut down on junk foods, soda, fruit juices, jam, and anything containing simple sugar. Avoid alcohol as it can lead to insomnia and irritability.
Food that can Maintain Mood
Here are some foods that can help maintain the gut-brain axis and simultaneously to maintain mood:
Healthy Fatty Acids- Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids available in fish oil, walnut, kidney beans, chia seeds, are good for your gut. Even hemp seeds are good sources of fatty acids. Try getting quality ones from an online dispensary Canada. These help increase healthy bacteria, promote brain health, and help combat depression and anxiety.
Fermented Foods- These are prebiotic-rich foods that can improve digestion and boost immunity. Foods like kimchi, kefir, yogurt, cheese, can be your companion to help reduce stress and maintain the mood.
Micronutrients- Proteins, fiber, vitamins are the best foods to help you stay fit and happy. Proteins can increase dopamine levels to help promote energy and keep you in a good mood. You can eat eggs, tofu, and low-fat Greek yogurt. High-fiber foods are also healthy for gut bacteria. Oats, beans, legumes, whole grains, Brussels sprouts are some rich sources of fiber. As for vitamin, to alleviate depression, try lentils, leafy veggies, and broccoli.
Pay attention the next time you feel moody. Your brain and body might be telling you to eat good food. Consider implementing a gluten-free, sugar-free, or dairy-free diet to observe what suits you the best.