What Foods Are You Eating That Affect Your Mental Health?
There has been a significant increase in the number of people experiencing anxiety and depression. In addition to Covid-19 causing unrest both physically and mentally (1), the food that we eat also plays a part in how we feel.
So what foods should we eat and which should we avoid? Which foods contribute to good mental health? What is Red Dye #40, and is it dangerous to give it to my kids? What should I do if me or my child is experiencing anxiety, depression, and ADHD? How can neurofeedback help? Keep reading to find out all of these answers.
The Science of Unhealthy Food on Your Mental Health
Many people call the stomach your “second brain”. The reason behind this name is that there are billions of bacteria in your stomach that trigger how many neurotransmitters are produced. Neurotransmitters help your “second brain” and actual brain communicate. We obviously want good bacteria in our bodies to produce a good chemical reaction to reach our brains. (1)
Which Foods Should I Not Eat?
Consuming sugar plays a huge role in our mental health because it is extremely addicting. It can cause you to have a dopamine rush at first and then crash a few hours late. This is one of the reasons it’s so important that you cut back on sugar if you struggle with anxiety or depression.
By design, processed foods are addictive, and like sugar can cause inflammation in your brain which affects your mood. For example, substitute soda for water and candy for fruit. Once you train yourself to make these small changes, I promise, it will get easier. Think about the last time you felt really stressed or anxious and you grabbed a bag of chips or your favorite share size candy…the instantaneous happy feeling was probably a quick shot of dopamine, we have all felt it! And, we have all felt the laggy draggy feeling that comes when the warm and fuzzy feeling fades. Making small changes is one way to break the cycle…maybe the next time you are feeling thirsty and looking for a boost of energy, instead of grabbing the soda or energy drink, reach for a refreshing glass of water or eat some fresh fruit. It’s also important that you eat intuitively. This means that you shouldn’t stuff yourself, but also listen when your body is hungry. Only eat when your body is telling you that you are hungry, not out of boredom. (2)
What's Red Dye #40?
Red Dye #40 has been around for years and is in popsicles, jello, and candy. But it can also be found hiding in many other processed foods that are seemingly healthy choices like yogurt, fruit snacks, condiments, bread, breakfast cereal, sports drinks, etc. While this dye has been approved by the FDA, its base is a petroleum product and raises health concerns.
So what mental health concerns are we hearing? Researchers have found that Red Dye #40 may cause attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) and inflammation in your brain. All the more reason to avoid processed food. (3) If you’re curious to learn more about how ADHD works and how neurofeedback can help you or your child, click here.
So What CAN I Eat?
Eating fiber, which is vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans is food that you should be mindful of taking in every day. Certain antioxidants may seem harmful, like dark chocolate and sugar, but this should be taken in moderation. Berries, green vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids, salmon, and chia seeds are all great opinions to get antioxidants into your diet.
Folates, such as green vegetables, lentils, and cantaloupe can help to produce healthy dopamine levels in your body. Vitamin D from the sun, vitamins, or even mushrooms helps boost serotonin levels. You should also look for magnesium in your diets, such as almonds, spinach, and bananas. This can help avoid anxiety and depression. A surprisingly yummy choice of food is kombucha. Fermented foods can be a great probiotic if you can get used to the taste. (1)
Where Can I Get More Resources?
Myplate.gov is a great resource to practically see what foods you are eating and which areas you need to work on. You can take a short quiz that will guide you through areas you may not have thought of before.
If you want to hear more about which nutrients is better for your brain, listen to Dr. Drew Ramsey in a podcast. He has great content that relates to this subject.
What is Neurofeedback?
SYMMETRY Neuro-Pathway Training provides a simple and painless process that uses positive reinforcement to train brain waves to operate more efficiently. All you have to do to start is schedule a free 30 minute consultation and learn more about how each session will benefit your mental health.
The process is simple. A brain map is completed to analyze brain waves to create a plan designed specifically for your brain chemistry. SYMMETRY creates a specific plan and uses Neuro-PT (aka Neurofeedback) to help teach your brain to work more efficiently. The brain has a natural desirable pattern that it wants to meet. Sometimes this can become dysregulated and needs to be retaught how to work better.
Neurofeedback Training is Easy
During a session, you can watch your favorite TV show. The screen will fade in and out training your brain. It guides the brain to correct dysregulated brain waves and teaches it to function properly through positive reinforcement (operant conditioning). The goal is to reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, insomnia, ADHD, oppositional behavior concerns, and more.