Is Your Diet Affecting Your Mental Health?

Many of us have heard the saying, “You are what you eat”, and this saying is very true, in a number of ways. The foods that we eat have an affect on the neurotransmitters in the brain, and therefore have an affect on how we think and feel.

An article from Harvard’s Health Blog about nutritional psychiatry, linked here, explains that our diet has a huge impact on our mental health in a number of ways. Studies have shown that eating a diet high in sugar is correlated to worsening depression symptoms. One of the main links between our diet and our mental health is a neurotransmitter called Serotonin that helps regulate our mood. According to Harvard’s Health Blog, 95% of serotonin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, and that serotonin is greatly affected by “good” bacteria in the intestines. Additionally, people who eat a traditional diet like the Mediterranean diet, have a 25-35% lower risk of depression. So, it seems very clear that our mental health and our production of serotonin is greatly affected by the food we eat.

So what can we do to maximize the functioning of serotonin in our gastrointestinal tract? Limiting foods that have “bad” bacteria, like sugar, processed, and refined foods, will limit inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and will increase healthy production of serotonin.

Harvard’s health blog recommends trying to eat “clean” for a few days to see how that affects the way you feel emotionally and physically. Once you have cleaned up your diet, try adding foods back in one at a time.

I hope this post is helpful in identifying how your diet might be affecting your mental health. Reach out anytime!