By Michelle Reitan
Edmonds Waterfront Center 

Food – What is it good for? | Prime Living

Health & Wellness


Last updated 2/18/2021 at 8:49pm

I don’t know about you, but this last year has not been good for my waistline. Working from home has made it too convenient for me to eat whenever or whatever I want, regardless of whether I am hungry. Studies have shown that mindless and unhealthy eating is not just bad for your waistline, it can also affect your mental health.

Like our heart, stomach and liver, our brain is an organ and is very sensitive to what we eat and drink. Like our body, to remain healthy it needs different amounts of complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals and water.

When we smoke, drink alcohol, tea or coffee or even eat chocolate, we may notice a temporary improvement in our mood. Some foods are really good at tricking us into thinking we are feeling better. A sufficient amount of neurotransmitters, which are the compounds the body makes to produce serotonin and dopamine, are vital for good mental health. Some foods like the ones mentioned above are perfect at promoting neurotransmitters that we lack and help us to feel more content or less anxious or depressed temporarily. That is why we may crave certain foods.

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It is important for our mental health that we pay attention to what we eat. Our brain is always on, it is regulating our thoughts and movements, even when we are sleeping. If we have diets that are high in refined sugars and low in complex carbohydrates, which can be found in foods such as peas, beans, whole grains, and vegetables, it can be harmful to our brain and worsen symptoms of depression and anxiety.

According to Eva Selhub, MD, the field of nutritional psychiatry is finding that there are several connections between what we eat, how we feel, and the kinds of bacteria that exist in our gut. Our gastrointestinal tract is lined with millions of nerve cells, and about 95% of our serotonin, which helps regulate appetite, sleep and mood, are produced in the gastrointestinal tract. It makes sense then that what we eat affects our mood.

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But how do we keep our gut “happy?” A gut with a wide variety of gut bugs is a happy gut. The way that we get a wide variety of gut bugs is through eating more fermented food. This would include yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, and olives. Fermented foods contain live bacteria that take up residence in the gut when we consume them. We can also take probiotic supplements.

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Prebiotic fibers can be found in onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, potatoes, bananas, apples, legumes, and some grains (oats and barley). Excess sugar, refined carbohydrates, specifically those made from white flour, and some artificial ingredients can actually decrease the number of healthy gut bugs. That is why we should try to limit these in our diet.

It is important to start to pay attention to how we feel after we eat, and not just immediately after we eat but also the next day. Sometimes I ask clients to keep a food and mood diary. This helps to see if there is a correlation between what you eat and your mood. If you are feeling unusually down, take a look at your diet. By making some changes it can really affect your emotions.


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