How Diet Affects Mental Health
The food we put into our bodies does a lot more for us than we think. While it’s easy to link a healthy diet to more energy or vitality, what we eat can also have less obvious effects, like the state of our mental health. The relationship between food and our wellbeing is intertwined, with the consumption of proper nutrients allowing our bodies and brains to function at their best.
This relationship between diet and mental health largely takes place in our gut. Located in the large intestine, our gut, or microbiome, is home to a colony of trillions of microorganisms—with microbial diversity contributing to good immune function, healthy digestion, and even, our mood. Need a refresher on the microbiome? We talk about it in length, here.
Although achieving microbial diversity and gut health may sound daunting, it’s as simple as considering our diet. So, let’s talk about how diet affects mental health, what a healthy diet can look like, and how to ensure we’re keeping our bodies and minds healthy and well.
First things first: Understanding the gut-brain connection.
To best understand how diet affects mental health, we have to understand the gut-brain connection. Research shows that there is a line of communication between the central nervous system and the gut microbiota, also referred to as the gut-brain axis.
In this, healthy gut function allows hormones, neurotransmitters, and immunological factors to communicate signals to the brain. If our gut health is troubled, it can send negative signals to the brain that hinder its ability to regulate things like mood, anxiety, or depression. More simply put, to have optimal mental health, our gut function must be healthy, too.
How to care for your gut: Fibre and diet.
The foods that are in our diet matter, as everything we feed ourselves also feeds our microbiome. The bacteria in our gut thrive with high-fibre diets; diets that also aid in digestion, vitamin production, immune support, and mood regulation.
Low-fibre diets, on the other hand, can lead to a decreased function in the gut, affecting many aspects of physical and mental health. One such condition commonly referred to as “leaky gut syndrome” refers to a damaged lining in the intestine that diminishes its ability to serve as a barrier against harmful substances and bad bacteria. Leaky gut syndrome can occur in diets that are low in fibre, or high saturated fats, refined sugars, and artificial sweeteners. We also know that unhealthy diets may result in later consequences like diabetes or obesity, both of which have also been linked to poor mental health.
Ultimately, mental health is a highly personal, multi-factorial subject that should be addressed with personalized and professional care. For most people, opting for a diet that incorporates plenty of fibre, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables, with limited amounts of artificial sweeteners, refined sugars, and processed foods can encourage a well-functioning gut, and consequently, a healthier body-brain connection.
The O3NC Difference
At Omega 3 NutraCleanse®, our mission is to make prioritizing a healthy body and mind easier for you. Our organic flaxseed blend is rich in fibre and full of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In other words, incorporating O3NC into your diet is a sure way to keep your gut, your body, and your mind healthy, happy, and functioning at their best.