Feed thy brain not depression: things you must know about food and mood !
That daily sip of coffee or an ice cream you are planning tonight or a broccoli in your fork are the future feelings your brain will return you sooner or later. What you eat is what you are is an old wise saying. Food we eat does not only influence the physical health, but they are building block of your feelings, thoughts, behavior, and mental health too. It nourishes mind as well. The same way it has potential to create illnesses in body and mind .
Gut and brain affair : Hunger is killed by sadness worry anxiety in one person. Another one finds solace in food(excess and unnecessary) when depressed. Why this happens with digestive system only. Why not other one. Because human gut can be seen as second brain in body. Whatever you mind, and brain feels reflects on gut too. The same way any abnormality in gut and food intake will affect the emotional health, feeling of happiness and sadness. Gut indeed controls the mental health. Serotonin is the key hormone that calms our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. This hormone impacts entire body. It enables brain cells and other nervous system cells, to communicate with each other. It also helps with sleeping, eating, and digestion. Do not get surprised if I say Serotonin is secreted more in gut than in brain or anywhere in the body. So, it is very important for gut to remain healthy. Here comes the right food for healthy gut. Ancient health science Ayurveda has called food the prime reason for health as well as illnesses. It also uses food as medicine for physical and mental disorders.
Brain is composed of 60% fat : When the whole world was blaming the fats as bad and was following the low-fat food trends , the brain was silently weeping. Human brain is mostly made of polyunsaturated fat, let us say good fat. People who eat food less in good fat suffers more mental illnesses( mood swings, anxiety, depression, memory issues) than the one who eats it ample. Understand which fat is good and which is bad. Saturated fat like vegetable oil, margarine, salted butter, lard (pork, beef), heated and reused fat are examples of bad fat (saturated Omega 6). But fat forms like Cow ghee, olive oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, almond, ,flaxseed oil, fish oil are some of the good fat(unsaturated omega3) names. Brain needs it for soundness of emotion, cognition, and psychological activities. Ayurveda always praises food which is Snigdha in property i.e. with enough good type of fat. Ruksha Aahara (Fat free food) causes early degenerative changes in tissues and organs disturbing cognitive health.
Vitamins and mental health : Many mental illnesses are associated with deficiencies of vitamin and minerals like Vit C,A,B ,folic acid ,iron , Zinc and Magnesium etc. These nutrients are crucial role player in normal function of Central Nervous System. Regeneration of neurons , synthesis of hormones, proper nerve conduction, healing and recovering cellular inflammation are few of their functions. If diet does not fulfill the need of these nutrients, it does have significant effects on mental health. Depression , dementia, and many other psychological mood disorders show satisfactory outcome when these nutrient’s need is satisfied.
Fast food and mood disorders: Whole mankind is thriving(?) on fast food as they run in daily rat race against time. But we human must pay toll for this fast-track lane which is nothing but bypass to Nutrition and health. Almost all the RTE(Ready to Eat), processed, preserved and fast junk food have very fewer nutritional properties, heavy chemicals, and synthetic preservatives. The cooking process is unhealthy. All these are favorable to disturb your gut health. Lack of proper nutrition leads to malnourishment of nerve cells, impairment in hormonal synthesis and in turn imbalanced cognitive and emotional health is result. Fast food is well known to create food addictions(thanks to artificial flavors, colors , MSG,DSG salt and sugar) which in turn causes ill nutrition and the vicious cycle never ends. Ayurveda categorizes these food types in Virudhhanna(incompatible diet). Ayurveda doctors always give stress on diet habits to identify diet mistakes and rectify them. Fried, high calorie, stale, and sugary food feed mental diseases just like they feed metabolic disorders like obesity, Diabetes, and heart diseases. Food can be pathology and food can be medicine.
Food medicine : Ayurveda probably the first documented literature of health science is still known for its holistic approach towards health and treatment. Diet and nutrition play major role in the treatment. For mental health wise use of food as medicine is very interesting and fruitful when it comes to prognosis. Food, which is according to body type, season, appetite and other is seen as food etiquettes. Three types of food Satwik Rajasik and Tamasik are just an example which signifies the mental personalities and their food preferences. This three-property theory can be wisely used as food medicine. Early education to avoid food mistakes(Tamas Aahara) and adapting the favorable food (Satwik Aahara) can prevent many psychological illnesses caused by malnutrition of brain. Pathya recipes, Diet according to body constitution help keep Tridosha at balanced state in mind and body. Other factors responsible for psychological diseases may not be in control but when you take control of diet and nutrition many symptoms in mental diseases get reduced.
Ayurveda takes scientific help of medicated ghee, oils and other food. Usually adaptogens like Brahmi (Bacopa Monneri), Shankhapushpi, Sarpgandha, Ashwagandha are used for their action on nerves and brain.
Nutritional psychiatry is an emerging branch in psychological disorders and Ayurveda approach is base for the science. So yes , feed your brain and not your depression. Stay tuned for more interesting information on Ayurveda, diet wellness and Ayurveda lifestyle.