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The impact of food in mental health

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When we think about food and diet mostly we relate it with weight loss, some of us muscle growth and health, especially diseases like diabetes, cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc; but we don´t think or relate food with our brain or mental health and it has a huge impact.

Many people is diagnosed with mental diseases like depression, anxiety, ADD, PTSD, OCD, but a lot of people suffer of symptoms from any of this and have not been diagnosed. I´m not saying that by being diagnosed you need to take drugs which I don´t recommend, this is the last option when you´ve literally tried everything else. Now I need to mention that depression, anxiety, PTSD, and some other mental illnesses could be cause by an accident or a situation the person went through and if it´s not treated it will get worse and worse over time. It´s really important to talk with an expert, but life is hard and we all go through situations that lead to depression or anxiety or other and we can all do something to improve and start feeling better and it all starts with our food choices.

Food is a great strategy to help us cope with the effects or symptoms of mental illnesses like the ones I´ve mentioned before, certain foods can make the symptoms worse while others can lower them down. We can see this on a day to day basis just be aware of how you feel after a meal, be conscious of what you´re eating and how you feel after, you´ve probably been on a bad mood more than once, if you eat unhealthy foods and even certain foods that can be considered healthy they can make your mood worse and if you eat certain foods that contain certain chemicals and micronutrients they will make you feel better.

For some people processed meats can make their symptoms of depression worse, if you´re on a bad mood turmeric can help improve it and it´s also anti-inflammatory. Berries are one the best fruits rich in antioxidants that also are very beneficial for your brain.

Food also has a huge impact on dementia and diseases like Alzheimer´s and Parkinson, certain diets like ketogenic have been used to treat Alzheimer´s when it actually started as a treatment for epilepsy.

We´ve talked before about inflammation and how certain foods cause inflammation, this occurs not only in our body also in our brain and this is how some diseases develop, inflammation in the starting point, we´ve also talked about insulin resistance which is when our cells start ignoring insulin signaling, this also happens in the brain and it´s also the starting point of many diseases.

Diet can reduce or increase inflammation and it can also improve or worsen insulin resistance. We know that certain foods are unhealthy and we need to eliminate them for a period of time and then avoid them as much as possible, those foods are unhealthy seed oils, flour (nuts flours are the exception), sugar and certain carbohydrates. This foods cause inflammation and raise insulin and when we eat them continually it leads to insulin resistance. So a way to start is avoiding this foods.

If you want to take this one step further you can try an elimination diet, you´ll need to eliminate grains, dairy, gluten, sugar for a couple of weeks which cause a lot of problems for many people and slowly start introducing them one by one. One week add grains to your diet and be aware of how you look and feel, stay with it for a couple of weeks, then add dairy and also be aware of how you look and feel, continue.

Now, if you want to improve your brain you need to consider that what you need to eat to improve it is as important as what you need to avoid, if you eat a lot of berries but you´re still consuming unhealthy seed oils and sugars you won´t get the benefits, in fact those unhealthy foods can have a greater impact.

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Pam