Did you know nutrition may play a role in anxiety, depression, Attention Deficit Disorder and Alzheimer’s disease? Studies are finding that certain nutrition deficiencies or overloads can affect different chemical and inflammatory processes leading to such conditions.
First, we have chemical substances throughout our body called neurotransmitters that are like little communicators. Some of the common neurotransmitters found in the brain include serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.
Serotonin works with different brain processes including mood, appetite, sleep and memory. Dopamine works with cognition and pleasure. Norepinephrine is the flight-or-flight neurotransmitter and therefore increases alertness and attention in the brain.
How does what we eat effect neurotransmitters? The pathways to make the neurotransmitters need essential micronutrients like Vitamin B6 and iron. Therefore if we are not eating a healthy diet and lack some of these nutrients, we may also be deficient in these neurotransmitters.
Then we also have inflammation. Inflammation in our body can cause damage to our blood vessels and cells in our brain leading to illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease. Different lifestyle choices such as exercise and sleep can help to decrease inflammation. Also, a healthy diet full of antioxidants such as different vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals can also decrease inflammation and protect the brain.
A diet high in foods such as fruits, vegetables and healthy fatty oils from fish, avocados and olive oil can help to decrease inflammation. One diet shown to help decrease inflammation is the Mediterranean diet, for it is high in these foods and essential nutrients.
So, to fight against memory loss and to encourage mental health, make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. Beware of processed foods or foods that have few vitamins and minerals.
MORE HEALTHY EATING TIPS: Here’s the skinny on red meat.