You are what you eat! We’ve been saying it for years with regard to our physical health, and now there is more and more research linking food quality to our emotional health as well.
Since 1978, our food production and modification processes has changed the quality of our food. How our produce is grown, for example, has changed averaging in about 40% less vitamins and minerals. What contributes to the decrease? The soil is not as nutrient dense; pesticides and other chemicals used during the growth process to create bigger crops (genetically modified), actually reduces the nutrient density.
The Standard American Diet is weighted (no pun intended) with more processed foods and artificial ingredients that pack on the pounds and are responsible for triggering hormone and insulin production.
So how does all of this impact mental health?
Great question! Hormones and insulin are also directly connected to neurotransmitters, like serotonin. Serotonin affects our mood, digestion, sleep, and also our social behavior. GABA is another important neurotransmitter critical in helping the brain send and receive messages. Both of these neurotransmitters impact our mental health often manifesting symptoms related to depression and anxiety.
Amino acids are what the body converts to build neurotransmitters and stabilize and support healthy hormone levels. Amino acids come from whole foods like nuts, seeds, meats and black beans. The dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli are also quality sources of amino acids.
Even the highest quality diet is susceptible not meeting the ideal levels, and therefore supplementation can fill in the gaps to support healthy sleep, digestion and mood.