What is nutritional psychiatry? For starters, it’s delicious

“We are human,” says Dr Naidoo. “Instead of judging yourself if you have a piece of cake, take advantage of it and move on. People shouldn’t hang on to diet war rules like “you can never eat bread or cake” or anything. In other words, Pizza Fridays won’t make or break your body’s microbiome, and it certainly shouldn’t break your mind. With that said, here are some steps you can take to support a healthy eating-mood relationship.

Limit sugar (including artificial sweeteners) and processed foods.

Many processed foods combine “empty” calories with other chemicals and additives, like colors, preservatives, fillers, and sugary ingredients that can cause inflammation, which “makes our brains depressed, anxious, and so on. blur “, explains Drew ramsey, MD, clinical psychiatrist, professor, author and expert in nutritional psychiatry. “It’s pretty clear at this point.”

A sugar-fed gut microbiome craves sugar. Sugar causes inflammation and is linked to lower levels of BDNF, a protein that helps our brains adapt to stress. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame and saccharin are also on the banned list, due to potentially toxic effects on mood-regulating neurotransmitters and chemical synthesis in the brain. I’m sad to say that simple carbohydrates, like white rice and pasta, fall under the category of sugar; they quickly break down into glucose (sugar) in the body. Much of their nutritional value, like fiber and vitamins, has also been removed.

Add lots of colorful vegetables, legumes and leafy greens.

You may already know the old adage: “eat the rainbow”. Replace unnecessary inflammatory or nutritionally neutral foods with dark chocolate, peppers, citrus fruits, berries, leafy greens, lentils, asparagus, broccoli, berries, you get the idea. These foods contain healthy fiber for the microbiome and mood-enhancing vitamins and minerals, such as iron, folic acid, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins A and B.

Incorporate probiotics.

Our digestive tract is home to around 100,000 billion bacteria and microorganisms, which play a major role in our health. Eating active cultures helps to crowd out unhealthy microorganisms and increases the healthy flora in our microbiome, which improves mood and our overall health. Foods like kefir, yogurt with no added sugar, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, and buttermilk all contain bacteria that are important for gut health. Probiotics are best supported by prebiotics: foods like oats, alliums, garlic, apples, and beans.

Take advantage of omega-3s, limit saturated fat, and go for lean protein.

Fish like sardines, salmon, tuna, and mackerel are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation in the brain and can be a great source of vitamin D. Avocados and olive oil olive help complete the list of nutrient rich fats. . Lean beef, shellfish and poultry are high in iron, a mood booster. Grass-fed beef, chia seeds and nuts also contain omega-3s. In fact, “nuts are a perfect blend of carbohydrates, protein, fiber and fat,” says Dr. Ramsey.

Nutritional psychiatrists also recommend limiting saturated fats, like shortening and margarine, and eliminating trans fats completely.

Cut back on caffeine and alcohol.

Both play a role in anxiety, writes Dr Naidoo in It’s your brain on food. “Anxious people sleep less well if they drink alcohol regularly”, despite the fact that “drinking can relax them in the moment”. This means no more than one drink per day for women and two per day for men.

Caffeine, despite this morning rush, overstimulates the threat processing region of the brain and decreases function in the area that helps regulate anxiety. Instead of giving up your brew altogether, cut it down and try incorporating calming chamomile or turmeric tea into your drink list. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water: about four to six glasses a day, more if you sweat and exercise.

How does food supplement other mental health treatments?

Nutritional psychiatrists incorporate food into broader treatment plans, which may include medication, talk therapy, acupuncture, yoga, exercise, and more. “It’s really about putting all of these pieces together,” says Dr Naidoo. In other words, food helps, but it shouldn’t be seen as a quick fix.

“If someone says celery juice can cure depression, that doesn’t help,” agrees Dr Ramsey, who has seen many patients injured because they thought their very restrictive diet would cure them. “Having said that, I think all American doctors and psychiatrists agree that it would be best if our patients were to eat really healthy, unprocessed foods. Not that it will cure all mental illnesses, but it certainly helps improve brain health and alleviate symptoms. “

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