My last blog included information exploring the benefits of exercising for emotional health. This blog will explore the benefits of eating well for emotional health.
Nearly two years ago I was blessed with the opportunity to be under the care of a wonderful naturopathic doctor. After years of trying conventional medicine to provide some relief from endometriosis pain, I decided to give the natural way a shot. My doctor placed me on a special, personalized, anti-inflammatory diet that really changed my life. The diet reduced my pain, but what I also found was that I felt better overall.
Many people do not realize it, but you actually are what you eat. Eating healthy can drastically change your mood and improve your way of life. Scientific research shows there are many links between what you eat and your mood.
Food allergies/intolerances can, surprisingly, have a great effect on your mood. For example, if you have gluten allergy or intolerance, consumption of gluten can leave you feeling sluggish or maybe even depressed. Due to the responses food can have on moods, there has been a recent trend in advocacy for dietary changes for children with ADHD or Autism suggesting there is a strong link between food, mood and behaviors.
Fluctuations in blood sugar can also change your mood. High blood sugar can often lead to irritability, while low blood sugar can bring about feelings of anxiety, depression and lethargy.
Research also suggests that low levels of vitamins, mineral deficiencies, and low intake of fatty acids and omega-3’s can also contribute to altered moods and mimic various mental health issues. There are those who believe that the lack of these substances are actually are the cause of mental health issues. One of the most common deficiencies is vitamin D. Lack of sufficient amounts of vitamin D can lead to mood swings, depression and fatigue. If you have any deficiencies, your mood may be improved simply by adding supplements.
If you are interested in exploring how food may be affecting your moods, I suggest keeping a food diary for a minimum of two weeks. Record all food and drinks consumed and your moods before and after. It may sound tedious, but it is beneficial. If you notice a pattern, you may wish to seek a nutritionist or experienced healthcare provider to assist you in making the necessary changes. Since diets should be individualized, you will want to make sure the changes you are making are appropriate and healthy for you.
If you notice your mood is a little funky and you don’t know why, consider what you are eating. It may be the one small change you can make that will make a big difference. Finding the foods that alter and improve your mood may be the next step in improving your emotional health.
Eating healthy photo available from Shutterstock
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Last reviewed: 16 Jul 2012