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The Connection Between Mind, Body, and DietFit woman drinking a green detox smoothie at the gym

When you think about the things you eat, you know that your diet has an impact on how your body looks and feels. Have you ever considered, though, how nutrition affects mental health? The link between nutrition and mental health should be obvious. We know, for instance, that eating a well-balanced diet can make a person feel more alert and think more clearly, while a faulty diet can cause fatigue and slowed reaction time. In fact, while a good diet can improve concentration and focus, a poor diet can lead to stress and depression.

Dietary Issues in the United States

It is common for people in the United States to eat a diet full of processed foods, high in refined flours and sugars, rather than a nutritious diet packed with nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables. Processed foods stimulate the dopamine centers in our brain, which make them addictive; we crave them because they stimulate our pleasure centers. However, if you understand the importance of nutrition for your mental health, you will understand why it’s important to stop eating these foods. Removing sugars and refined carbohydrates from your diet can begin to change the physiology of your brain.

Nutritional Deficiencies and Mental Health

It is well documented that vitamin and mineral deficiencies can lead to symptoms of stress, anxiety, and nutrition. Low levels of magnesium have been associated with depression, as have B vitamin deficiencies. Incorporating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, spices, and herbs, into your diet, on the other hand, can provide essential nutrients as well as sensory factors that contribute to both physical and mental health. The right diet can also help reduce inflammation in the body, reducing physical issues and improving mental health.

Food for Mental Health

How should you eat to improve your mental health? It should be noted that, often, we do exactly the wrong things when we’re feeling depressed, anxious, or stressed. We load up on sugar, processed foods, and caffeine, when whole foods and fresh produce would help us feel better. We eat too much or too little, resulting in sluggishness, exhaustion, and worsening stress and depression. It’s a vicious cycle, but one that you can break by eating mindfully and focusing on eating the right foods for depression, anxiety, and overall well-being.

Start by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon. Eat brain-protective foods like dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Vary your menu, incorporating complex carbohydrates like brown rice and starchy vegetables, lean proteins like chicken, meat, fish, eggs, soybeans, nuts and seeds, fatty acids found in fish, meat, eggs, nuts, and flaxseeds, and healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado. Don’t eat while distracted, and skip processed and sugar-filled snack foods. If you have a problem preparing food when you’re stressed and, in a rush, keep healthy snacks on hand, like fruit, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, baked sweet potatoes, and edamame.

Treating the Whole Person

At Advanced Functional Medicine, an integrated medical clinic, we exclusively practice functional medicine. A full functional medicine approach to healing uses a comprehensive diagnostic screening to get to the root of a patient’s issues. Our whole-body approach to medicine utilizes all-natural, researched-based nutritional approaches to optimize the body’s natural healing abilities, rather than just using medication to treat symptoms. Each individual receives unique and customized care, formulated based on the latest scientific resource, and we have a 96 percent success rate in patient outcomes. As a medically driven, patient-focused health clinic, we support our patients’ individual health goals, providing natural relief for symptoms of chronic factors and expert guidance about the decisions affecting a patient’s long-term health. It is our goal to help reverse chronic disease without resorting to dangerous or unnecessary drugs or surgical interventions, promoting healing from the inside out, in its truest, healthiest form. To schedule an appointment or learn more about how we can help restore your health and strengthen your body’s unique physiological functions, call 858-500-5572 or contact us through our website.