You are what you eat, let our digestive and even immune health is relatively obvious, the link between eating for is a bit more blurred. This blog post aims to shed light on the matter. Mental health and wellbeing is a huge topic, affecting many families and individuals’, especially in today’s society. However, it’s also an area that deserve more attention and focus, often not talked about enough in public. There’s so many facets to the conversation and the content below is by no means here to ‘cure’ or ‘claim importance’. The hope is that it helps you to see that diet can certainly support health and wellbeing. So and – are they connected? Let’s dive in. be thy medicine…we see these quotes circle all the time. And while the connection to
Food and Mental Health – are they connected?
In Europe, one in five persons will develop a depressive episode during their lifetime
Your health is essential to your overall well being. Throughout our lifetime, we encounter different worries ranging from general everyday to much bigger issues so it’s normal to feel down at times. In addition, our resilience and ability to respond to these issues will vary so no one issue will affect the same person in the same way.
As a basic definition, is the state of someone who is “functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioural adjustment”. When things go in the wrong direction, health problems range from psychological distress to more serious health disorders. Again the length and breadth of these is vast and complex. So where does food fit into all of this?
Food and Mental Health
As you can gauge from reading above, the area of digestive and your can play a big role in affecting your for the better or worse. is a complex topic. Not only that but each ‘disorder’ or type of health issue can vary in severity, type, manifestation etc. For example, doesn’t manifest equally in each individual. Some might have trouble going to work, others flying etc. What’s fascinating, however, is that we’re seeing research show that the you , your
To give you a glimpse of the research to date: our microbiome has been linked to anxiety, magnesium deficiency is linked to anxiety, adaptogens for anxiety, stress, anger, confusion and depression, CBD oil for PTSD, sleep and anxiety, broccoli for schizophrenia,
How diet affects mental health
In order to begin this conversation, let’s break the effect of on down into three categories: the , the and a leaky . Remember that your comprises ten systems working in unison together 24/7 to keep you alive and functioning. These systems don’t work in isolation and the relationships/dependencies that do exist are highly complex.
The Second Brain
The food we digested and assimilated by our bodies via the digestive process. This process happens at different stages and in different parts of the , aided by other systems and/or organs. The tube from mouth to anus (oesophagus, stomach, intestines, rectum, colon) is lined by an extensive network of neurons called the enteric nervous system. In fact, there are has to be broken down, more neurons there than in the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system. The role of this system is to regulate aspects of digestion, from breaking down food, to absorbing nutrients, to expelling waste.
When it comes to the final stages of absorbing gut microbiome deserves a mention. These outnumber our cells at a ratio of roughly 10:1 so it does become a question of who is living on whom? What we do know is that we have a symbiotic relationship with these guys. back into the and sifting out the waste, our
To sum up, this vast network of neurons combined with our flora is now being referred to as the the second brain. As for our , the we has a direct impact on the of our lining and the of our . But if you the wrong , you can upset the balance of which then can impact on the relationship and/or cause overgrowth of the bad guys (candida, SIBO etc). It’s worth mentioning antibiotics too can have an impact.
The Vagus Nerve
Your brain sends signals around the body 24 hours a day. A large portion of this job is done via the digestive tract. nerve, a nerve that supplies much of the chest, abdominal cavity and the
When you’re stressed, anxious or going through a low period, your brain activity is decreased which can also decrease activation of the digestive process, from reducing enzymatic production to causing bacterial overgrowth in the . Up to nerve. This in turn can have a detrimental effect on the 90% of fibres in the vagus nerve carry information from the to the brain and not the other way around and scientific evidence suggests the can communicate directly with the brain, perhaps too impacting emotions and mood.
Given its importance to the digestive disorders which then affects your ability to effectively digest and extract . This then leads to added pressure on the immune system and potentially a leaky . , if the isn’t working properly, it will cause
To put it succinctly, stress, and cause leaky gut. Based on the above points you can see how this might manifest, especially if you’re already a poor full of inflammatory and processed . This means that leaky develops when the space between the cell walls of your widen and start to allow substances like undigested , and metabolic waste pass the wall into your . We wrote a blog post to answer the question what should you eat to heal a leaky gut.
When your intestinal permeability is compromised, your immune system starts to attack the foreign bodies that make their way across the compromised cell walls. This creates inflammation and the inflammatory cytokines that are produced in the stress, , and so on. it’s a vicious circle. travel through the to the brain. An inflamed brain has decreased activation which then manifests as
Five simple actions
If you could only do five things today to kick start your:
- Social support: Talking is regarded as one of the most effective ways to look after your . 95% of Irish people agree that talking with a friend or family can be helpful to your .
- Get outside: being out in nature, breathing fresh air and getting away from the stresses of the day
- Exercise to get those endorphins flowing!
- Eat more vegetables
- Sleep – cannot stress enough the importance of sleep. Here’s 6 tips to get a better night’s sleep.
This post has taken a brief look at the connection between and . It’s worth another mention, but this topic is very complex and effects people in different ways. We also know that is impacted by much more than what you ; it’s also influenced by how you live.
Curious how you can support with ? Stay tuned, our next post will dive in.