Achieving and maintaining health and well being is an active and dynamic process of change and growth that continues throughout your life, and involves much more than illness and disease. What is health wellness? 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 health, depression, and emotional wellness.
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.” For more on depression from Wikipedia read here. Here is another article on depression you may enjoy reading, “What Depression Is About.”
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. It’s not just an emotional response, as it turns out, it’s more of a gut and hormone one. Your digestive system contains neurons and other type cells that 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, and it can also influence your brain by releasing hormones.
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. 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.
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. It increases the production of cortisol, the main harmful stress hormone, which, in itself, creates inflammation in your digestive system, and also increases blood sugar through gluconeogenesis and 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 anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, walnuts, flax, and whole grains are some of them. Spices such as ginger, sage, turmeric, chili peppers, and cumin, are also great additions. 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 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 the imbalance, which creates mood and emotions, they 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 your body. A balanced diet containing antioxidants significantly reduce the damaging effects of free radicals, by repairing cell damage, as well as, strengthening the immune system, and it supports your body in growth and repair. Sources of antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
Vitamin C–fruits and veggies high in Vitamin C are oranges, blueberries, strawberries, peppers, and tomatoes.
Vitamin E–nuts, oils, and veggies high in vitamin E are almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, sunflowers seeds, vegetable oil, spinach, tomatoes, and kiwi.
Zinc–lean meats, veggies, poultry, fish, seeds, high in zinc are turkey, shrimp, sesame seeds, pumpkin, crimini mushrooms, and spinach.
Beta-Carotine–fruits and veggies high in beta-carotine are pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, broccoli, apricots, and cantaloupe.
Selenium–fish, veggies, nuts, dairy, and poultry, high in selenium are brazil nuts, beans, legumes, whole grains, crimini mushrooms, chicken, turkey, eggs, and low-fat milk and cheese.
Carbohydrates are one of the most widely studied nutrients regarding maintaining mental and emotional health. It has been found that high carb meals tend to result in feelings 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.
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 fruits and veggies, legumes, sorghum, corn, and quinoa.
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, 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 white meat poultry, lean meats and pork, dairy, eggs, and all types of beans, particularly soybeans (*)(.
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. 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 is the main contributor to excessive and persistent inflammation in our bodies. T
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, reprocessed foods, fast foods, refined carbs such as white bread and white rice, animal fats like lard, shortening, and margarine, processed meats and fatty meats.
Foods that combat inflammation are tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy veggies, 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 fats can help to prevent and reduce risks of many acute medical conditions, such as, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Healthy fats containing omegs-3 fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated, can aid in health promotion and prevention of disease, particularly, when consumed in appropriate amounts, with other monounsaturated fats like olive oil.
Consuming high omega-3 foods may reduce inflammation, alleviating fatigue, and improve concentration and mental clarity. Studies have been inconclusive, 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.
Best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are cold-water fish, such as salmon and sardines, flax seeds, and walnuts. Other sources are canola and soy bean oils, cloves, romaine lettuce, kale, tofu, soy beans, summer and winter squash, and any dark green leafy veggie.
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 beef and pork, chicken, salmon, whole-grains, bananas, and potatoes.
Folic Acis 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.
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 meats and pork, poultry either chicken or turkey, salmon, tuna, shrimp, 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, dairy products, 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 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 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 foods. Locate a small local farmer, or a specialty market, which sells only these types foods, and buy them there. You should be able to buy all of your fruits and veggies at least nine months out of the year fresh. Buy lean grass-fed beef, lean free-range poultry, and pork, and cold-water fish and seafood, from a specialty market, as well (*). That way you will be assured of the freshness and quality of the food. For more in depth information on buying these types foods, read this article “What Is In Maca Root?” .
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. 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 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? 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, 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 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!
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:
- How To Relieve Stress From: Hormonal Imbalance
- What Is Stress Relief?
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”.
Should you have questions, please ask them below. Your comments are also welcomed.