Did you know that around 95% of a person’s serotonin (a neat little neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, sleep and appetite) is produced in their gastrointestinal tract? Yep that’s right-95%! You might be saying, “And why are we talking about this?” Well, news flash, it means that what we eat can actually impact our mental health.
Let’s get really nerdy and break this down a bit further. Both the production of serotonin and the function of these neurons are totally impacted by “good” bacteria in our stomachs. This is linked to what we eat. When we feed our gut foods such as fruits, vegetables, seafood and unprocessed grains it helps keep the good bacteria around. If we keep good bacteria around, we allow for these neurons to buzz around in a normal function throughout our bodies. A healthy diet is going to lead to a healthy gut. This in turn is also going to lead to our ability to produce serotonin in healthy levels.
So what’s the brass tax on this little spiel? The Western diet is poor. We need to decrease our fixation on high processed meats, sweets and fried food. Dun Dun Dun…This is when all my current and previous clients start to chant my favorite word-Moderation! Of course I want you to eat a burger, some fries and have a soda or a beer on a Saturday while watching the Huskers. I also want you to turn around and skip the fast food drive thru for lunch or dinner during a busy weekday.
Listen, at the end of the day, we all know that diet won’t cure mental health issues. There are a bunch of factors like genetics, brain chemistry and life events that all play a role. That being said, it is a natural, completely within your control option for lowering your risk and decreasing symptoms. It’s why you see me begrudgingly eating some kind of nutty granola bar for breakfast. I’m not a huge breakfast human, but it is important to fuel my body first thing…or well kind of first thing, in the morning.
Plan ahead. Share meals with humans you love. Moderation.