There is no denying that our diet can dictate our mood. We’re not just talking about cases of being a bit “hangry”. The food we put in our bodies actually communicates with the whole system. That’s why it’s so important to eat as many organic foods in their whole form as possible. To help bring balance to that equation, you might want to turn toward all-natural supplements. Let’s take a look at the close-knit bond between diet and mood.
Welcome to the Gut-Brain-Axis
At one point or another in your life, you’ve probably heard of the expression that the gut is the second brain. As preposterous as it sounds, this sentiment isn’t very far-fetched. In fact, the stomach might actually be the brains behind your body’s whole operation.
There is a series of nerves that dangle down from the brainstem that acts as a barometer that hovers over the gut. These nerves are a collective group known as the vagus nerve, and they have a bunch of sentient tissues that resemble hairs. These hairs act as sensors that survey the lower half of the body. They are activated by aromatic molecules from oxidizing cells, bacteria, and food particles within the digestive tract.
Neural tissues send pulses back to the central nervous system to signal if anything is amiss down below. Scientific circles call this line of communication the gut-brain-axis. It’s also the key regulator in the diet and mood connection.
The Rise of Mental Health Disorders
The World Health Organization (WHO) projects that one in four people suffer from a mental health disorder. While that’s alarming, what’s perhaps more troubling is the fact that the number of people diagnosed with these conditions is growing at a fast rate.
Furthermore, there are thousands of people who probably have a mental health disorder but haven’t sought out treatment, and therefore, they haven’t been properly diagnosed. So, the number is probably even higher than we realize.
Research finds, “The rate of individuals reporting symptoms consistent with major depression in the last 12 months increased 52% in adolescents from 2005 to 2017 … There was also a 71% increase in young adults experiencing serious psychological distress in the previous 30 days from 2008 to 2017.”
These growing numbers are compared to 10 years prior, in which there was already an alarming jump in mental health disorders. The question is, what is causing these scary numbers? Sure, there’s the added stress of social media, technology, and a slew of other anxiety-inducing triggers all around us. However, how our food is manufactured also plays a monumental role.
Processed Foods and Mental Health Issues
Many of the foods available in grocery stores, restaurants, and fast-food chains are laden with artificial dyes, preservatives, and genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). This means we are eating much less nutrient-dense foods than ever before.
Do you remember when we said food communicates with our system? That’s because organic foods are rich in nutrients like vitamin C, magnesium, and amino acids. These are all molecules that are naturally in our bodies as well.
On the contrary, our bodies are not rich in additives like Yellow #5, high-fructose corn syrup, or genetically-modified gluten. These “ingredients” are the reason there has been a 500% increase in food sensitivities since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Simply put, our bodies have trouble breaking down processed foods. As a result, these solid food particles remain in our system, left to oxidize and disrupt our vagus nerve.
In turn, our minds interpret that there are intruders in the system. This realization causes a number of reactions that may result in gastrointestinal problems and anxiety. Suffice to say, if your stomach isn’t in a good mood, you won’t be either.
How to Eat a Better Diet That Will Better Your Mood
The first step to a better diet and ultimately an improved mood is to eliminate all the junk food. We know packaged deli meats, drive-thru windows, and microwaved dinners are convenient. However, they are causing a mess in your gut and creating a bigger one in your brain.
Sometimes we forget the real reason we eat. Food tastes great, but it’s not the rush of dopamine from a bag of salty potato chips that caused our ancestors to forage the plains. We need food because our bodies need to break the food particles down in order to absorb the nutrients and convert them to energy.
For optimal brain health, you want to eat plenty of these three major components of a balanced diet: macronutrients, micronutrients, and carbohydrates. Let’s take a closer look at each.
All diets need protein. Protein contains amino acids that are the building blocks of life. These amino acids are broken into two categories, known as omega fatty acids. In the typical Standard American Diet (SAD), a person consumes a lot of omega-6 fatty acids. These are polyunsaturated fats that are difficult for our bodies to break down. Therefore, they stay in our fat tissues longer. For those who live a sedentary existence, they may never burn off. Then, as more omega-6s are consumed, the fat just gets piled on.
The average person gets up to 42% of their caloric energy from omega 6s. That number is in comparison to our ancestors, whose omega-6 intake was around 20-30%. That’s why we have seen such a rise in obesity. Instead, your body needs more efficient energy to burn off. This is where omega-3s come in.
Omega-3 rich foods include:
- Chia seeds
- Wild rice
- Ancient grains
As you can see, this list is lacking in red meat. So, be sure to up the amount of plant-based and leaner proteins in your meals and cut down on the beef and lamb.
Carbohydrates aren’t the enemy. They’re energy. You want to make sure you are eating plenty of carbs that also have other brain-boosting nutrients. Sweet potatoes, for example, are rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C. Therefore, sweet potatoes are a better carb to eat than white potatoes, which are more starchy and offer little nutrition per calorie. These are antioxidants that help fight off oxidative stress in the brain.
In addition, you want to eat complex carbs that your body can’t digest, but will be broken down by your healthy stomach bacteria. These types of carbs are known as prebiotics. They help keep the pH balance in your gut at a level that won’t set off a negative reaction to the vagus nerve.
The best complex carbs for your mental health diet include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Acorn squash
As you can see, many of these complex carbs are also rich in omega-3s. By adding them to your plate on an omega-6 heavy day, you can help bring balance to your mind and gut.
Micronutrients are often pushed aside in favor of more filling foods that are rich in omega-6s. Micronutrients are the most communicable of the vitamins and minerals. There are thousands of tiny molecules in everything we consume. These molecules have unique interactions with the molecules in our system that other foods can’t replicate.
For instance, apples have a ton of nutrients. However, they don’t have much vitamin C as a kiwi. Nor do they have as much vitamin K as kale. Therefore, if you’re running low on those nutrients, an apple can help, but it won’t be the savior your system would need.
That’s why your diet for mood regulation needs variety. Try mixing up the colors on your plate. Each pigment means a different nutrient is prevalent in that food. Oranges have their familiar color due to their high levels of vitamin C. Whereas blueberries get their antioxidant properties from their dark blue color and a molecule called anthocyanin.
Smoothies for Micronutrients
It’s so hard to get all of the necessary foods into your meal plans. That’s why a smoothie is a great way to boost your mental health on-the-go. All you need to do is mix and match fruits and vegetables into your blender and you’ll have a ton of brain-boosting nutrients in one cup.
Here are some amazing brain-boosting recipes:
Look Good While Studying Smoothie
- 1 cups blueberries
- 1 cup raspberries
- 1 cup pomegranate juice
- 1 cup ice cubes
- 1 tsp chia seeds
- 1 avocado
Creamy Getaway from Stress
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 banana, ripe
- 1 cup pineapple chunks
- 1 T flax seeds
- 1 cup ice
- 1 cup kale
- 2 T organic apple cider vinegar
- 1 kiwi
- 1 cup ice
- 1 T chia seeds
- 1 scoop Matcha powder
Smoothies aren’t for everyone. They can take a lot of prep work, can be a bit messy, or some may not like the taste. Don’t worry. You can still get all the nutrients you need to boost your brain health. If smoothies aren’t for you, forget the blender and try these all-natural supplements.
All-Natural Supplements for Mental Health
You can only shove so many berries into your mouth before you feel like you’re turning into one. That’s why it might be easier to up your mental health nutrition with all-natural supplements.
One of the strongest supplements to boost your mind is CogniDHA Fish Oil. Since our diets tend to be so heavy in red meat, we can miss out on essential omega-3 fatty acids. This supplement is rich in DHA, which is responsible for cognition. Supplementing with high-quality fish oil has a vasodilator effect on the system. Vasodilators help relax blood vessels so they can make their way through arteries that are caked with artificial sugars and dye particles. That makes CogniDHA not only good for the mind, but for the heart, too!
For those who are feeling anxious and need a quick fix, try supplementing with Serenity Hemp Oil. This formula is enriched with full spectrum hemp oil. That means you have all the 113 phytocannabinoids found in hemp to interact with the endocannabinoid system. Research indicates that the way cannabinoids stimulate receptors in the endocannabinoid system causes a sedative-like effect on the system. Furthermore, research suggests that CBD may help curb your appetite, making it handy for those who binge-eat.
Another way to get your inner zen on is to use Tranquilene. Tranquilene is made with all-natural botanicals that have been proven to boost your mental performance. It contains vitamin D3, an essential vitamin for mood that a majority of people lack. In addition, the formula also has natural neurotransmitters that promote a calming effect on the system such as GABA.
How to Get a Good Night’s Rest with All-Natural Supplements
We all need a good night’s rest. It’s during these moments that our bodies create pivotal hormones that are responsible for everything from breaking down our food to regulating our mood. By using Sleep Fast Plus, you help replenish your body with melatonin. When your body is under constant stress caused by a clogged up system, your adrenals spit out cortisol.
As this hormone takes up residence in your gut, it leaves little room for the production of melatonin. Sleep Fast Plus has cannabinoids in the formula that help bring ease to the system, slowing down cortisol production. That opens the door for the melatonin in the formula to help you get to sleep.
Have you noticed that your diet affects your mood? Share your journey in the comments below!