Food and mood – What you eat to enhance your mood
If you are depressed, should you see a psychiatrist or a nutritionist? Perhaps both. More research seems to point that eating the right foods may help alleviate depressing feelings.
The food and mood relationship keeps coming up in research. Does that mean you should drop your medications? The answer is No. Depression and other mood disorders may very well be chemically related. It is associated with hormones and fluids in the brain and elsewhere, heavily supported by comprehensive studies. Eating certain foods may augment those chemicals but not necessarily change their bio-availability. The food and mood relationship is further exacerbated by what foods help and what food don’t help. The professionals are so conflicted about the foods that, for affective effectiveness, you might just as well stick to the pill.
For more than 30 years, books on food and mood have lined shelves and online searches filled with twists of what may work.
Columbia University’s Mailman institute seems to be focused on food and mood by delivering interesting studies about childhood anxiety and food allergies. CBS news has produced a story how researchers are trying to tie-in numerous and large studies to explore and reveal the food and mood connection.
digestive system parts are linked to the brain by the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve, when stimulated, sends mild signals to the brain to indicate that the gut is hungry. At this point all sorts of hormones are triggered, insulin is -preparing for food but none is coming. That might have something to do with brain fog that develops a couple hours after a routine meal. Brain fog occurs when the symptoms of low blood sugar are experienced a few hours after a meal even though blood glucose levels remain normal. This is also known as postprandial (“after eating”) hypoglycemia or postprandial dip. Performance a few hours after eating can fade and lead to anxiety.
There are some unique clinical aspects that are discussed because the relationships of food and mood seem like a simple way of treating depression. Is it? And do we really know what they are and how they work?
While many studies seem to make it appear that those living in Mediterranean regions have lower reports of depression, does it really correlate with food and mood? A recent report shows that 44% of women in East Mediterranean countries have mental disorders. A European survey reported that those reporting depression were about 11% in Italy, just slight lower than European average? Are these people NOT eating the Mediterranean Diet?
What is noted is that living the Mediterranean lifestyle – physical movement, social activities, and dietary adherence, might suggest lower reports of depression.
Then there are many other possible causes of depression mood disorder, not associated with food. The exact cause of depression disorders are not clearly known. However, there are several factors that can increase the risk of developing the condition. The APA might suggest that there are combinations of genes and stress that can influence changes in brain chemistry and reduce the ability to maintain mood stability. Yet, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) does stress depression’s alarming statistics:
Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life.
Yet the diagnosis is more involved with the symptoms than lifestyle causes of depression. It is very unlikely to indicate food and mood.
Per APA, symptoms are:
(Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:)
Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
Loss of energy or increased fatigue
Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
Feeling worthless or guilty
Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
Thoughts of death or suicide
Of course, other possibilities may have an influence over any of these symptoms.
Food and mood may be associated with adding certain Omega 3 fats with slow absorbing carbohydrates. Low glycemic foods, chocolate, and food that has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, tryptophan, folate and other B vitamins, have all been studied to evaluate their impact on mood. Results vary from study to study, but there usually appears to be an association between these foods and improved mood. Fundamentally, a good, healthy meal, with a vitamin supplement, might suggest an elevation in mood.
Beyond food, the importance of adequate hydration is often neglected. Your body needs water above any other liquid refreshment. General recommendations indicate that you drink 2 liters of water each day. Studies seem to indicate that moods change as your hydration drops. Water is the most overlooked nutrient. Many active people use skin sensing hydration monitors to assure that they are adequately hydrated. Drinking water also helps reduce that brain fog that may occur when meals are spaced too far apart – or beyond habituation. Think of water as a filling snack. Just keep it clear. No sweet drinks, sodas, juices, or coffee. Just cool, clear water.
Considering food and mood routinely is noble. There are subtle nuances in wither with differing benefits and consequences. Prescription anti-depressants are probably the best bet if your mood is blue for over a few months. Anti-depressants also have side effects that may continue to affect your moods negatively.
Severe or abrupt diets or intermittent fasting may be more depressing unless you really believe that you can and will transition for long term results. Food, processed or whole, have calories, carbohydrates, fats, cholesterol (and other things that people need to control) may be significant confounding variables. Eating tuna and salmon daily can bring Mercury poisoning. That alone is something to get depressed over.
Barring any unique illnesses or conditions, following USDA dietary guidelines would provide a healthy diet plan that could be satisfying in many ways, including your mood.
Chronic mood disorders may really require competent psychotherapists to prescribe those medications that work best and that you can tolerate.
In light degrees, food and mood may be close cousins. Depending upon dietary and mood severity, food and mood may be strange bed-partners. You are the peace maker. Food and mood are indirectly correlated with a positive slant. Some foods may not boost mood directly. Many work on different scopes of healthy nutrition. In virtually all variants, a good diet might be a good supplement to anti-depression therapy. It’s all relative.