Achieving and maintaining health and well being is an active and dynamic process of change and growth that continues throughout your life, and it involves not only health and the body, but also Health and the Mind. It means achieving and maintaining balance and integration of body, mind, and spirit.
A healthy, nutritious diet is one of the essential ingredients in achieving and maintaining your health and wellness. Today, we will focus on the undeniable connection between nutrition, mental illness and health and emotional wellness. The American Psychological Association (APA) agrees that there is a connection between nutrition and mental illness.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that few people are aware of the connection between nutrition and depression while they easily understand the connection between nutritional deficiencies and physical illness. A meta analysis conducted in China, published in Psychiatry Research, suggests that “Western-Style” dietary habits may contribute to depression.
Another 2017 study published in Journal of Pediatrics, of 120 children and adolescents, consuming fast food, sugar and soft drinks, or the opposite to what is considered the healthiest diet and lifestyle, the Mediterranean diet, was associated with a higher prevalence of diagnosed attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
More on the Mediterranean diet a little later. There is also mounting evidence that poor dietary habits and mental issues are more prevalent in women then men and reports, like this Binghampton University of New York report, that physicians and mental health professionals may want to start advising women about this connection.
Binghampton University, reviewed by the NIH, also conducted a study of 563 participants investigating the impact of nutritional deficiencies on mental well-being and found women are more likely to require a well-balanced diet and healthy lifestyle in order to maintain mental well-being, whereas, men are less effected.
Wikipedia describes depression this way:
Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity, that affects a person’s thoughts, behaviors, tendencies, feelings, and well being.
Food and Emotions
Can you remember a time when you might have been upset, stressed out, or sad, and food seemed to make everything, at least temporarily, better? Emotional eating is one of the most common habits, with the way people deal with their ups and downs. Those who emotionally eat do so to soothe negative feelings, and they may even feel guilt or shame after eating this way, leading to a cycle of excess eating and associated issues, like weight gain. Why do some turn to food to feel better?
Negative feelings or emotions give a feelings of “emptiness”, and food provides a temporary escape to feelings of “wholeness”, according to Mayo Clinic “Feeding Your Feelings”research. Most anything can cause emotional eating like stress, or family issues, or financial issues. As we mentioned earlier, studies show poor eating habits and poor health is more prevalent in women than men.
It seems studies also show emotional eating is also higher in women, per an Harvard Medical School study. Per the Mayo study above, an unhealthy cycle between negative emotions and emotional eating will continue until the emotional issues are addressed, and other remedies are found. It’s not just an emotional response, as it turns out, it’s more of a gut and hormone one.
The Real Causes Of Emotional Eating
What causes these hormones to fluctuate or go out of balance which affect Health and the Mind? Many things can cause hormones imbalance and eating poorly, such as: high stress levels, poor gut health, vitamin D deficiency, too much or too little exercise, exposure to toxins, unhealthy lifestyle choices including smoking, high alcohol consumption, or using drugs, genetics, aging, and lack of sleep and relaxation. It’s not enough most people already lead stressful and busy lives, but you add in poor diet and lack of healthy nutrition, it’s no wonder that metabolic disorders affect the majority of people.
Your digestive system contains neurons and other type cells that connect the brain and gut, known as the “gut-brain axis”, and it act like artificial intelligence, or like a “brain”, to control digestion and metabolism. Your gut is connected to your real brain by your nervous system, or vegus nerve, and it can also influence your brain by releasing hormones, that can cause psychiatric and inflammatory disorders.
The psychology of the gut-brain axis, or the relationship between the brain, the gastrointestinal tract, the bacteria within the gastrointestinal tract, and the bidirectional relationship between these systems. Then it’s important to look at how they are an impact upon cognition and a variety of stress‐related behaviors, including those relevant to anxiety and depression.
Signals from your gut influence appetite, and forward signals to the brain, especially, parts of the brain that’s involved in stress, emotions, and sense of self, according to this NIH study. Neurotransmitters are messenger molecules produced by nerve cells to communicate and control almost every function in the body, including mood. One of the most powerful ways to influence our neurotransmitters is through your food choices. And, of profound importance, several of your mood hormones are produced in your digestive system, not in your brain.
An NIH study confirmed that’s why maintaining a healthy digestive system is key in maintaining a healthy emotional and mental state, and what we choose to eat is so vitally important, in maintaining a healthy digestive system. Many of your neurotransmitters are composed of amino acids, which you can only obtain from the foods you eat. Without these amino acids we get from foods, we would not be able to produce the essential mood hormones, such as dopamine, epinephrine, and serotonin.
Serotonin is the neurotransmitter associated with feeling of well being and happiness, while dopamine, is the pleasure and reward hormone. Amazingly, a huge percentage of your serotonin is produced in your gut. Inflammation is also a major contributing factor to our production of mood hormones, and lifestyles, is about 90% of the inflammation problem. The foods you eat, can either increase inflammation, or help balance it.
When you have increased inflammation from our life or from the foods you eat. Stress and inflammation both increases the production of cortisol, the main harmful stress hormone, which, in itself, creates food cravings and inflammation in your digestive system. For, example, diabetics with increased blood sugar levels also suppresses immune function. Imagine how your mood can change when your blood sugar is unbalanced, or when you are chronically depleted and ill. There is overwhelming evidence that there are altered and varied patterns of cortisol secretion in many conditions associated with stress, including PTSD and major depressive disorder.
Foods That Balance
So, what foods can you consume on a daily basis that balances your hormones and reduces inflammation, balancing your digestive system your emotional health, and your overall health and well being?
Foods that are high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, walnuts, flax, and whole grains are just some of them. Spices such as ginger, sage, turmeric, chili peppers, and cumin, are also great additions. Natural fermented foods that replenish good bacteria flora in the gut are great too. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for proper hormone health and balance, and are essential because your body does not produce them, so you have to rely on obtaining them from foods.
By increasing your cold-water fish intake to three times a week, such as salmon or cod, as well as, adding flax, chia, hemp, and walnuts, to your diet, is a great move. Now that we have determined what is health wellness, how do you achieve it?
A well-balanced diet, like the Mediterranean diet, can improve energy, alertness, concentration, attention, and cognition, and prevent inflammation, and digestive issues, fatigue, decision-making, and concentration. Nutritional and dietary strategies can help combat nutritional deficiences and any imbalance, which creates mood and emotional swings, that may have occurred as a result.
Healthy, Nutritious Contributors
Damaging molecules in your body, called free radicals, are produced, as both a byproduct of normal body waste function, and a result of environmental exposures from harmful invaders such as pollution, and radiation. Free radicals can damage cells and cause dysfunction within the human body and also can increase your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
A balanced diet containing antioxidants significantly reduce the damaging effects of free radicals, by repairing cell damage. Antioxidants also strengthen the immune system, and it supports your body in growth and repair, per an the NIH study. Sources of antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Vitamin C. Fresh organic fruits and veggies high in Vitamin C are oranges, blueberries, strawberries, peppers, and tomatoes.
Vitamin E. Fresh organic raw nuts, monounsaturated oils, and veggies high in vitamin E are almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, sunflowers seeds, vegetable oil, spinach, tomatoes, and kiwi.
Zinc. lean organic grass-fed meats, veggies, free-range poultry, wild-caught fish, organic seeds, high in zinc are turkey, shrimp, sesame seeds, pumpkin, crimini mushrooms, and spinach.
Beta-Carotine. Fresh organic fruits and veggies high in beta-carotine are pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, broccoli, apricots, and cantaloupe.
Selenium. Wild-caught fish, fresh organic veggies, raw nuts, grass-fed dairy, and free-range poultry, high in selenium are brazil nuts, beans, legumes, organic whole grains, crimini mushrooms, chicken, turkey, eggs, and low-fat milk and cheese.
Complex Carbohydrates and Whole Grains
Carbohydrates and grains are one of the most widely studied nutrients regarding maintaining mental and emotional health.
It has been found through studies like an NIH study, that high complex carb meals tend to result in feelings of fullness and of relaxation and calmness. When a carb-dense meal is consumed, the hormone insulin is released by your body. Insulin aids blood sugar in the cells, so it is used by the body for energy. As levels of insulin increase in the cells, an amino acid called tryptopan enters the brain.
Tryptopan is an amino acid found in protein foods, which influences the brains chemical messages, or neurotransmitters. As tryptopen levels enter your brain, the neurotransmitter, serotonin, is produced. Serotonin levels enhance mood and have a sedating and calming effect on you, as confirmed by another NIH study.
Studies have associated high serotonin levels with happy moods, and lesser of inferior mood levels, that result in symptoms of depression, fatigue, sleeplessness, and poor concentration. Best sources of carbs are any whole-grain cereals and breads, most fresh organic fruits and veggies, legumes, sorghum, corn, and quinoa.
Numerous studies suggest that a high-protein diet has major benefits for weight loss and metabolic health, per 2 NIH study. High protein intake significantly increases metabolism and the number of calories burned. Another NIH study on proteins confirmed a direct correlation onmetabolic health. In a review of 40 trials on blood pressure and eating protein confirmed that consuming healthy proteins lower blood pressure, and also lowered LDL cholesterol and tryglycerides levels.
Proteins are long-chained molecules of 20 different amino acids, and are essential structural components of bodily tissue such as muscles, hair, and collagen. These amino acids also produce enzymes, antibodies, and messengers. Enzymes are responsible for regulating most of the chemical reactions in your cells, speeds up recovery after injury, and promote new molecule growth.
Antibodies destroy foreign particles creating common inflammation, but also rid your body of viruses, and bacteria. Messengers are your hormones that transmit the signals between different cells, tissues, and organs. Best sources of protein are cold-water fish and seafood such as salmon, mackerel, cod, tuna, sardines, and shrimp. Others include free-range white meat poultry, grass-fed lean meats and pork, dairy, eggs, and all types of beans, particularly black beans.
Your immune system becomes activated when your body recognizes anything that is foreign and invading, and it triggers the defensive process of inflammation, to destroy the invaders. However, sometimes inflammation develops and persists on its own, from some imbalance, and becomes your enemy, resulting in autoimmune diseases, so it helps to eat anti-inflammatory-type foods.
Many major diseases that plague humans, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s’s, have been directly linked to inflammation. Latest research is confirming what we eat, such as the Western diet, is the main contributor to excessive and persistent inflammation in our bodies. Ultra-processing of foods changes the properties of whole foods and how these foods affect the gut microbiome negatively, promoting inflammation and can promote diverse forms of inflammatory disease.
To reduce the potential of inflammation in your body, reduce the consumption of high inflammatory-causing foods, such as fried foods, sodas and high-sugar drinks, processed foods, fast foods, refined carbs and grains such as white bread and white rice, animal and saturated fats like lard, shortening, and margarine, processed meats and fatty meats.
Foods that combat inflammation are fresh organic tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, green leafy veggies, organic raw nuts like walnuts and almonds, cold-water fish and seafood like salmon, mackerel, cod, tuna, shrimp, and sardines. Fruits like strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Research has shown that healthy monounsaturated fats, or MUFAs, such as extra virgin olive oil, can help prevent and reduce risks of many acute medical conditions and autoimmune diseases,such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and rheumatoid arthritis, according to an NIH study.
Significant associations could only be found between higher intakes of olive oil and reduced risk of all-cause mortality by 11 percent, cardiovascular events by 9 percent, and stroke by 17 percent. Another NIH study confirmed the beneficial effects of extra virgin olive oil and all-cause mortality.
Healthy lean fats containing omegs-3 fatty acids, can aid in Health and the Mind promotion which prevents disease and illness, particularly, when consumed in appropriate amounts, with other monounsaturated fats like extra virgin olive oil, one of the mainstays of the Mediterranean diet, or avocado oil. By the way, the Mediterranean diet has been chosen the number one overall nutritional diet for this year by the U.S. News and World Report.
Consuming high omega-3 foods may reduce inflammation, alleviating fatigue, and improve concentration and mental clarity. Psychologists are exploring the role of omega-3 fatty acids, because of its ability to reduce inflammation and its effects on dopamine and serotonin transmission, omega-3 has a role in brain development and functioning, with deficiencies linked to mental health problems.
One study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, Mary A. Fristad, PhD, of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, and colleagues, assigned 72 depressed 7- to 14-year-olds to receive 12 weeks of omega-3 alone, omega-3 plus psychotherapy, psychotherapy plus placebo or just a placebo.
Results showed seventy-seven percent of those who received psychotherapy and omega-3 achieved remission, compared with 56 percent of those who received a placebo. Quoting Dr. Quoting Dr. Fristad:
Psychotherapy worked; omega-3 worked; their combination worked the best.
Studies have been limited, however, suggesting that more research is needed to generate conclusions regarding its role in depression and mental health. In one study, omega-3 did not have a significant improvement on mood of individuals with depression. However, opposing research has demonstrated relationship among individuals with low-dietary intake of omegs-3s, and higher levels of depression.
Nonetheless, omegs-3s are important for many bodily functions, including your brain, eyes, and nervous system, and most likely your mood. In terms of weight loss, alarger study that combined the results of 24 other studies showed that high-MUFA diets are slightly more effective than high-carb diets for weight loss.
Various studies have shown that a high intake of monounsaturated fats and the Mediterranean diet can reduce blood cholesterol and triglycerides and reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke. A large study by the NIH of 164 people with high blood pressure found that a high-MUFA diet lowered blood pressure and the risk of heart disease, compared to a high-carb diet.
One large study of 642 women found that those with the highest amounts of oleic acid, found in olive oil, in their fat tissue had the lowest rates of breast cancer. A reduced risk of breast cancer consumption of olive oil and vegetables has been confirmed in women in Greece eating the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle, in several studies, like this NIH study.
Best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are fresh cold-water fish, such as salmon and sardines, lean pork, grass-fed eggs, organic flax seeds, and almonds, peanuts, cashews, and walnuts. Other sources are canola and soy bean oils, cloves, romaine lettuce, avocados, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, kale, tofu, soy beans, summer and winter squash, and any dark green leafy veggies.
Natural Fermented Foods or Probiotic Foods Studies have shown the importance of maintaining good “gut” flora, or microbiome, and consuming naturally fermented foods containing probiotic bacteria is beneficial to treating anxiety, per a BMC review, and a connection with poor dietary patterns and depression, per the National Institutes of Health (NIH) study. Probiotics also strengthen the immune system, such as protecting against upper respiratory infection in children.
Fermented foods can reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of IBS and other digestive problems. Good sources of fermented foods are kimchi, natural yogurt, cultured sauerkraut, fermented wine, miso, kefir, tempeh, natto, and beer.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 has a role in converting tryptophan into serotonin, as discussed earlier, which gives you that calming effect. Food sources for vitamin B6 are lean grass-fed beef and pork, free-range chicken, wild-caught seafood like salmon, whole-grains, bananas, and potatoes.
Vitamins and minerals are vital for growth, immune function, brain development and many other important functions, including preventing disease. Folic acid and vitamin B12. Deficiences in folic acid and B12, have been associated with depression. Folic acid, also referred to as a folate, is a B-complex vitamin that has very important roles. Its most notable role is in preventing pregnancy and neutral tube defects, but it also aids in proper red blood cell formation and development, cell growth, and supporting your nervous system.
Due to its relationship to the nervous system, a folate deficiency or a diet low in folate is associated with depression irritability, mental fatigue, and insomnia. Research has linked an adequate dietary intake of vitamins A and C with a lower risk of certain types of cancer, such as breast cancer and colorectal cancer. A NIH review of 22 studies noticed that adequate calcium intake decreases the risk of death from heart disease and all other causes.
Excellent sources of folates are spinach, asparagus, romaine, mustard greens, collard greens, broccoli, beets,lentils, parsley, cauliflower, summer squash, bell peppers, green beans, tomatoes, peas, brussels sprouts, black beans, kidney beans, strawberries, papaya, and fennel.Vitamin B12 works closely together with folates in your body.
If your body lacks B12, you will not be able to assimilate folate -type foods. In addition, vitamin B12, has roles in the brain and nervous system functioning, bone metabolism, and aiding bodily cells to metabolize proteins, carbs, and fats. A deficiency in B12, may also result in symptoms of depression, as well as, weakness, fatigue, and depletion of energy. Sources of B12 are lean grass-fed meats and pork, free-range poultry either chicken or turkey, wild-caught salmon, tuna, shrimp, grass-fed eggs and dairy products milk, cheese, and yogurt.
Vitamin D. The evidence is conclusive that vitamin D deficiency has a direct connection to depression and mental disorders. Vitamin D is normally the one we receive from getting sunlight, but with virtually everyone protecting their bodies from skin exposure to the sun now, reduction in vitamin D levels and deficiency are very common.
Sources of vitamin D are cold-water fish, such as salmon, cod, and sardines, grass-fed dairy products and eggs, and mushrooms.
Calcium. You know calcium has a vital role in bone and muscle health, but it also assists the function of your nervous system, blood vessels, and hormones. A deficiency in calcium causes anxiety, agitation, depression, insomnia, irritability, numbness, and muscle pain. However, it’s also true that excessive calcium, interestingly, may result in experiencing depression-related symptoms.
Foods rich in Calcium are all grass-fed dairy products as milk, cheese, and yogurt. Non-dairy sources include soybeans, black beans, tofu, salmon, broccoli, kale, and fortified orange juice.
Magnesium. Magnesium has a role in muscle relaxation, heart and cardiovascular health, and nervous system function and signals transmission.
A deficiency in magnesium can result in anxiety, agitation, irritability, confusion, depression, insomnia, and restlessness. Sources of magnesium are organic raw nuts such as almonds, brazil nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, black beans, chickpeas, soybeans, tofu, dates, figs, green peas, spinach, and swiss chard.
Buying Fresh, Certified Organic, Non-GMO Foods
Last, but, definitely not least, is to buy fresh, as humanly possible, organically certified, non-genetically modified nutrient-dense foods: Buy lean organic grass-fed finished meats of beef or bison, lean organic free-range poultry of chicken, turkey, or duck, pork or lamb, grass-fed dairy, and grass-fed eggs (A); cold-water fish, shellfish and seafood of salmon, tuna, scallops, shrimp, mackerel, sturgeon, sardines, oysters, and others (A); wide variety of fresh organic fruits, vegetables, raw nuts, and edible seeds (A); wide variety of fresh organic complex carbohydrates and whole-grains, wide variety of natural fermented foods, wide variety of fresh organic herbs and spices, monounsaturated oils like extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil, antioxidant dark chocolate, and antioxidant drinks like coffee, fruit infused water and fruit smoothies (A).
Natural Adaptogen Supplement Peruvian Maca
For added nutritional benefits and assurance to eating all the above referenced fresh nutritious foods, supplement your diet with a natural, organic, non-GMO, healing whole food Adaptogen Peruvian Maca, which will provide you with all the benefits of fresh nutritional whole foods. The NIH has a complete review on Peruvian Maca which is worth reading.
Adaptogens are a unique class of natural-growing plants (only a few recognized world-wide), that have the ability to assist the human body to “adapt” and to naturally function properly, by providing a “normalizing effect”, a balancing effect, to harmful bacterial invasions and stressors, oxidation, inflammation, and other harmful situations. Yes, Peruvian Maca has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well.
So, what is in Maca that makes it such an incredible natural-healing or medicinal plant? P Maca is a highly-nutritious whole food organically-grown and cultivated, non-GMO (genetically modified), on small family farms in Peru. One ounce (28 grams) of Maca contains the following nutritious substances: 91 calories, 20 grams of carbs, 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of fat, 133% of RDI vitamin C, 85% RDI copper, 23% RDI iron, 16% RDI potassium, 15% RDI Manganese, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12, 19 out of the 20 essential amino acids.
P Maca also contains trace minerals zinc, selenium, boran, and others, several glucosinolates plant substances, 20 free fatty acids, and 2 unique plant compounds macaenes and macamides (only found in Maca). After reading the nutritional values of this incredible natural plant supplement, one thing I hope that has become very obvious to you is, that it contains all of the nutritional substances required by your body to function properly in complete physical and emotional health and wellness.
Seriously, from proteins, carbs, fiber, vitamins and minerals, trace minerals, to antioxidants, anti inflammatory properties, omega-3s, plus the additional bioactive plant substances, Peruvian Maca has it all! Checkout this blueberry-Maca smoothie. For more information on the incredible Adaptogen Peruvian Maca plant, including a discussion on all of its many wide-ranging benefits, and where to purchase it, read these reviews:
After you read the two reviews, go ahead and request your two FREE gifts: Your e book copy of “The Secret Science Of Staying Slim, Sane, and Sexy After 40”, and your trial sample of “Julva”.
After reading “Health and the Mind”, what are your thoughts? Should you have questions, please ask them below. Your comments are also welcomed.