The happier the gut the healthier the mind!
By Nathalie Jabrayan Senior clinical Dietitian For the past eight years throughout my clinical practice as a Dietitian, I came to realize that one out of every three patients who were admitted for counseling were taking antidepressants
By Nathalie Jabrayan
Senior clinical Dietitian
For the past eight years throughout my clinical practice as a Dietitian, I came to realize that one out of every three patients who were admitted for counseling were taking antidepressants as a result of depression and panic attacks. One of the common things they faced was being overweight and having eating disorders. Most patients uncontrollably over indulged on confront foods mainly sugars, sweets and chocolate. So, is there any back up for this? What does science say?
There’s no single cause of depression, anxiety and stress. It can occur for a variety of reasons and it has many different triggers. From a dietitian’s point of view I will share with you in this article, how “You’re either feeding your mind, or fighting it!”
Everything is chemically intertwined, just like our thoughts, feelings, and unconscious mind can positively or negatively affect how healthy our bodies are so does the food we eat!
Diet cannot completely cure anxiety. But some foods can be calming.
The top concern is “Sugar” since it has been associated with increased inflammation in the gut leading to depression and anxiety (Harvard Health). Too much intake causes a blood sugar spike which includes fatigue and headaches, also low blood sugar can create anxiety and irritability.
Some studies have shown improvements with patients depression and anxiety after following a Mediterranean, low sugar clean diet.
In other words,
- Get your carbs from whole grains, legumes and beans.
- Eat protein for breakfast (eggs, turkey slices, dairy ) this helps make you full longer.
- Eat every three hours to keep blood sugar stable.
- Fill up on wholesome fruits and veggies.
- Focus on eating fatty fish, like salmon or albacore tuna, in place of red meat 2-3x/week
- Take poultry (rich in tryptophan) and low fat low sugar, dairy 3-4x/week.
- Add in healthy fats, like raw nuts and olive oil for omega 3.
- Avoid processed foods (sausages, hot dogs, products rich in additives like Monosodium glutamate, confectionaries, candy, cakes etc..)
- Enjoy sweets in moderation!
Emerging science also shows gut health plays a role in anxiety.
A 2015 study from Psychiatry Research found a link between probiotic *foods like yogurt, pickles, and kefir and improved anxiety symptoms. Another 2017 publication in Annals of General Psychiatry linked probiotics with improving symptoms of depression, by improving the levels of serotonin “the happy hormone”.
What about caffeine? Can you imagine starting your day without the scent of coffee? Here ‘s what to do, coffee cause’s anxiety which can affect your sleep and can cause edginess. So, switch to decaf in the afternoon, do not take more than two cups of coffee per day, if you’re a tea lover reduce your black tea consumption and make it less concentrated.
Boost your B vitamins.
Folic acid B-9 and B-12 deficiency can trigger depression. Ask a physician for the vitamin supplement or eat more citrus fruits, leafy greens, beans, chicken, and eggs.
Consider also adding foods high in zinc and magnesium like, oysters, cashews, liver, beef, and egg yolks have been linked to lowered anxiety.
The mood and serotonin booster. Harvard School of Public Health found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking about an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%.
Remember! Get your daily dose of sunlight by going out!
As a final note, try eating a “clean” diet for two to three weeks, that means cutting out all processed foods and sugar and see how you feel.