Eastern medicine practitioners and naturopaths have been prescribing dietary changes to help ease physical and mental ailments forever and a day, says Eva Selhub, MD, who is a corporate wellness consultant and a speaker who served as a clinical associate in medicine at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind, body, medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital for almost 20 years, (who I had the pleasure to meet).

Now Western science is finally catching on, and a growing body of research suggests that the foods we all eat greatly affect our brains as well as our mental health. In fact, so very much good evidence is emerging that a brand-new focus of mental-health research and treatment has now been born: (nutritional psychiatry)



For the last several decades, we had this idea in psychiatry that our mind was separate from our body-that psychiatric illnesses like depression existed in our mind alone, so what we put in our body was largely irrelevant, says Felice Jacka, PhD, who is a professor at the Deakin University School of Medicine in Melbourne, Australia, his focus is mainly on nutritional psychiatry. However, research over the last 10 years has increasingly shown us that mental and physical health are part of the whole and can not be separated. (Eating for good health).

For instance, a study of several hundred Australian women, those who ate the most whole foods like veggies, fruits, unprocessed meats, (Eating for good health), and whole grains were less likely to be diagnosed with anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorders than those who had a very low intake of healthy food. Two other studies done later in Norway and another here in the U.S. discovered much the same.



While it is true that people who are feeling unwell or who are mentally ill may gravitate toward less-healthy “comfort” or convenience foods, it does not fully explain the connection, says Jacka. Profound changes in brain structure and behavior have been seen after manipulating diets in studies of animal: other researchers like Jacka are now in the process of investigating how all of this applies to humans.

So far, the strongest correlations in nutritional psychiatry have been found in the risk of depression, however, evidence also suggests that food may play a role in conditions like dementia, anxiety disorders, attention deficit disorder, and schizophrenia. With every patient, that I now see, I do a complete food assessment and try to make food choices a part of their treatment plan, (Eating for good health), says Drew Ramsey, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University in New York City, also the co-author of The Happiness Diet.



Like any other of our body parts, our brains are basically built out of the food we all eat. Emotions begin in biology, with two nerve cells rubbing together, and those nerve cells are made of the nutrients in food, explains Ramsey. Our bodies can’t make the mood-regulating neurotransmitter serotonin without having iron and tryptophan, he points out, or produce myelin, that being the fatty substance that insulates our brain cells, without vitamin B12 (found in beef, seafood and dairy).

It makes sense, by giving our bodies higher-quality fuel makes our bodies work better from the top of our head to the bottom of our feet, (Eating for good health), but research suggests some other fascinating specifies about how food exerts influence over our state of mind. For example my friends, rats fed a high-fat, refined-sugar diet show reduced amounts of growth factors that are called neurotrophins in the brain, scientists now suspect that something similar happens to the sugar-loving humans. And that is a problem because neurotrophins prompt the growth of new brain cell in the hippocampus, which is a part of the brain that’s key for our memory, Jacka explain.



It is also been noted that the hippocampus is smaller in people that are suffering with depression, however, it grows again when the illness is successfully treated. So it is possible that eating a less-sugary diet could impact depression at the very least in part based on its effect on neurotrophins and the hippocampus.

Oxidative stress on brain cells likely plays a role, as well.Your brain is burning an enormous amounts of glucose {blood sugar} for energy, just like when we burn gas in a car and there is exhaust, when we burn fuel in our brain there’s a type of exhaust: free radicals,

Ramsey says. Over time, those free radicals damage our cells-and that is oxidative stress.” Build up enough damage, it can affect our emotion by interfering with the way our brain cell function.



Brain cells and the signals that they send to each other are part of what creates emotion and mood. If the cells are damaged and unhealthy, the signals that they send become muddled or irregular, and we end up with disorders like anxiety and depression. Antioxidants like vitamins E, C, and beta carotene, and flavonoids like quercetin and anthocyaidins (that are found in dark berries), have been shown to help repair and prevent oxidative stress.

The molecules in food also affect our genes through epignetics. A for instance, the research suggests that flavonoid antioxidants in foods like dark chocolate and zinc from oysters, certain vegetables, or omega-3 fats actually change the way our genes behave, Ramsey says. So if you have a genetic predisposition to depression, your diet my friends can either increase or decrease your risk of developing the illness.



Bacteria in the gut play a variety of roles for keeping our brain healthy. We have a beautiful, and wonderful ecosystem of organisms that live in the mucosal areas of our body like the lining of our stomach and our intestines, Selhub says, who studies the link between gut bacteria and mental health. One way these bacteria benefit our brain is by helping to keep intact the gut lining, which is full of cells that are constantly send messages to our brain.

Our gut lining also acts as a barrier to toxins and aids digestion so, our brain is protected from bad stuff while still receiving needed nutrients. But overwhelm the gut lining with the wrong foods-processed sugars, and some cured meats (like deli meats), trans fats, and processed, white-lour carhydrates-and it can become inflamed and begin to break down, Selhub says, “We know that more inflammation is associated with more mood disorders, including depression.”



The field of nutritional psychiatry is still in its infancy, however, research to date suggests that what seems to really matter, the most is overall diet quality, (Eating for good heal. Here are some ways to improve the caliber of your my friends.



Diets that focus more on whole, unprocessed foods-regardless of whether they include or exclude certain meats, grains, or dairy products-tend to correspond to better mental health than typical “Western” diets full of fast and processed food, packaged snacks, cured meats, and sugary drinks. The Mediterranean diet (which is my favorite), and Asian diets would fit that healthier description, Elizabeth Somer says, RD, the author of Eat Your Way to Happiness. In other words, what all the experts have been telling us for years remains true: Eat lots of colorful fruits and veggies, whole grains and lean protein and very little processed and fatty foods.



Fermented foods like, kimchi (Korean fermented cabbage), miso, sauerkraut (Japanese fermented soybean paste), with kombucha (a fermented drink which is brewed with yeast) it contains probiotic bacteria that the research suggests it will make your gut generally healthier. Some yogurts will also, however, not all, you need to cheek the labels to make sure they contain “live active cultures” with no sugar.

In a 2013 study, UCLA researchers found by eating a fermented yogurt with probiotics twice a day for 30 days led to increased activity in areas of the brain that process sensation and emotion. (How the components of yogurt might specifically affect mood, but, it is still unknown.) The scientific jury is still out on exactly which probiotic supplements may work the and which types of bacteria are most beneficial in the terms of mental health. However, Selhub does recommend increasing the intake of fermented food and thinks that a probiotic supplement can be the best choice for those with depression or anxiety.



Our harried lives lead us to eat more of the junk and processed convenience foods, which my friends may make us feel even more stressed. Unfortunately we don’t focus on finding outlets for our stress as a modern society, our stress overflows and the dam breaks, Selhub says. When there’s a drop in our levels of serotonin and dopamine, which is two brain chemicals that improve mood-we seek out high-carb junk foods in hope to feel better.

Then the food that we eat increases inflammation in our guts, that leads to oxidative stress in our brain, then serotonin and dopamine drop again. It creates a vicious cycle,’ Selhub says. By taking the time to cook at our home even when life feels mighty crazy, or at least selecting healthier prepared meals that are lower in fat with vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and fermented foods, will indeed, pay off by breaking this off the wall damaging cycle and improving your mood. By (Eating for good health).



Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically the DHA type found in seafood like salmon, (preferably pink salmon) tuna, shrimp, and halibut, seem to be helpful to people with severe depression Jacka says. The membranes of brain cell are partially made from omega-3 fatty acids, so if levels in our diet are low, our brain cell may suffer and not signal each other properly. The exact requirements aren’t know yet, however, the data suggest that we need at the very least 220 mg of DHA per day, the amount you will get if you ate salmon at least twice a week, Somer says.



Depressed patients are often found to be low on vitamin B9 (folate) and B12, leading the experts to conclude that these nutrients are no doubt important to the brain and to good mental health. Low vitamin D is also linked to depression. Almost everybody is deficient in D, Somer says. You need 1,000 IU a day. Spinach, asparagus, and black-eyed peas are packed with folate: and vitamin D can be found in tuna, salmon, eggs, and milk.



May friends if you will begin eating for good health, your life and your overall health will indeed be happier.

May you be always in good health, humbly your Paul Earl.