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How Your Diet Impacts Your Mental Health

How Your Diet Impacts Your Mental Health

A balanced, nutrient-dense diet isn’t just good for your body; it’s also good for your brain. Research is fueling the concept of “nutritional psychiatry” and shedding light on the importance of good nutrition for mood and mental well-being.

The team at Renew Infusions East Valley Serenity Health in Gilbert, Arizona, consider nutrition a powerful intervention in boosting mental health and reducing the risk of mood-related disorders. We offer full mental health evaluations and innovative treatment, including traditional medication, ketamine infusions, and nutrition therapy to get you feeling good again. 

The gut brain connection

There’s an intimate connection between your brain and your gastrointestinal tract, commonly referred to as the "second brain." 

This is how it works: Hundreds of billions of bacteria live in your GI tract -— referred to as the gut microbiome. The bacteria in your gut influence the production of mood-regulating neurotransmitters that send messages from your stomach to your brain. 

These chemicals (dopamine and serotonin being two of the most common examples) play a key role in mood and behavior. Did you know that 95% of your serotonin is produced in your GI tract?

The good critters in your gut thrive on nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables, while the “bad” critters thrive on unhealthy food components like refined sugar. 

Consuming nutritious foods encourages the growth of "good" bacteria, which has a positive impact on neurotransmitter production. On the other hand, a diet full of junk food encourages the growth of bad bacteria. 

Eating an unhealthy diet is linked to an imbalance of healthy bacteria and harms mental well-being. Ironically, eating a meal rich in added sugar, for example, creates a brief increase in "feel good" chemicals. The outcome, however, is a short-lived sugar high followed by a slump that can leave you in a bad mood. 

In short, feed the good critters and starve the bad critters to promote good mental well-being.

Nutrient-poor diets linked to poor mood

In addition to a healthy microbiome where good critters dominate, you need certain nutrient precursors for the production of feel-good chemicals. Processed foods often lack the nutrients your body needs and instead are filled with substances that do little more than encourage you to eat more (empty calories). 

Nutrients like zinc, B vitamins, omega-3 fats, and certain amino acids like phenylalanine are crucial for healthy neurotransmitter production. Your body must get precursors in the right amounts in order to produce enough mood-regulating chemicals. If you’re primarily eating a nutrient-poor diet, you’re depriving your body of the nutrients it needs to help you feel good. 

Mood-boosting diet

Nutritious diets, such as the Mediterranean Diet, are linked to improved mental health. Adopting good-for-your-mood eating habits can be challenging initially, but we can help. We take a look at your current eating habits and identify areas for improvement. 

We make nutrient recommendations and provide guidance on transitioning to a diet that promotes good mental health. You don’t have to sacrifice flavor! There are many delicious and nutritious foods to build your diet around. With our guidance and tools, you can improve your nutrition and feel better. 

Sometimes diet alone isn’t enough. If this is the case, we discuss additional treatment options, such as medication. We offer pharmacogenomics testing, which evaluates your DNA to estimate which medications may be best for you. 

If you’re struggling with depression, low mood, or any other mood issues, there are treatment options that can help. To learn more, give us a call to schedule a visit with one of our providers or book an appointment online today. Start on the path to feeling good again!

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