Nutrition and Mental Health

In recent years a major focus has been placed on the connection between the brain and the gut. This has led to a large amount of research and data that shows, you really are what you eat! These studies have trickled down into the clinical setting and now more and more providers are incorporating these dietary and lifestyle changes in their practice. Although diet therapy is more common in primary care, digestive, and cardiovascular medicine, diet therapy transcends medical specialty and can offer an improved quality of life in almost every chronic condition. 

Let's talk biology for a moment, our intestinal lining is one of the most complex and biodiverse tissues in our human body. The gut lining or “mucosa” plays three major functions depending on where in the digestive tract you are. These include movement, absorptions, or secretion. When we do not eat foods that support these functions we feel full and bogged down, bloated, or gassy. These physiological hurdles prevent our body from producing enough chemicals that help stabilize our mood. 


Neurotransmitters and endorphins play a vital role in allowing our bodies to synchronize the mental, emotional, and physical experiences of our bodies. Stress, depression, and poor lifestyle can lead to a chronic state of neurotransmitter depletion and cause side effects such as fatigue, anhedonia, loss of appetite, and other physical symptoms of mental health conditions. 90% of all the neurotransmitters responsible for a wide variety of functions are produced in the digestive tract, meaning if the digestive tract functionality decreases so does our normal production of neurotransmitters.

To ensure you have a consistent and healthy production of neurotransmitters, ensuring you get enough hydration, the right nutrition, and enough fiber to keep things moving is the best way to allow your digestive tract to gain the footing it needs. Be sure to work with a healthcare provider before beginning any diet, lifestyle, or weight-loss program to ensure the most effective and safe treatment.

 

Written by: Jaydee Robles, DACM, L.Ac