Eating healthy food for the brain can help improve cognitive function, including memory, decision-making ability, mental response time, and mood. High-quality foods contain lots of vitamins and minerals that nourish the brain. They also provide essential fatty acids that stimulate and strengthen brain cells. On the other hand, if we fuel up with anything other than healthy food, such as heavily processed or refined foods containing artificial additives, it can surely bring harm to our brain. These foods promote inflammation and oxidative stress which can damage brain cells and can even worsen symptoms of mental disorder, such as depression and anxiety.

The link between poor mental health and nutritional deficiencies has just been established decades ago through the scientific studies conducted within the field of Nutritional Psychology. This is a growing discipline that focuses on the use of food and supplements to provide essential nutrients as part of an integrated or alternative treatment for mental health disorders. By doing thorough studies, they’ve found out that there are many correlations with what we eat, how we think, feel, and behave and the kinds of bacteria that live in our gut.

 

Photo by Joshua Coleman

 

“The Second Brain” produces “The Happy Chemical”

Most of us if not all have experienced “butterflies in your tummy” when nervous, or “just go with your gut feeling” when making a decision. Actually, you may be getting signals from your second brain, the Gut.

Scientists call this little brain the enteric nervous system (ENS). Ironically, this little brain is composed of two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells or neurons lining our gastrointestinal tract where 95% of serotonin is being produced. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that influences mood, sexual desire and function, appetite, sleep, memory and learning, temperature regulation, and some social behavior. It is sometimes called “the happy chemical” because it contributes to wellbeing and happiness. As it helps relay messages from one area of the brain to another, the widespread distribution of its cells is believed to influence a variety of psychological and other body functions. Of the approximately 40 million brain cells, most are influenced either directly or indirectly by serotonin.

Moreover, the function of these neurons and the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin are highly influenced by the billions of “good” bacteria that make up our intestinal microbiome. These bacteria play an essential role in our health. They protect the lining of our intestines and ensure they provide a strong barrier against toxins and “bad” bacteria; they limit inflammation; they improve how well you absorb nutrients from your food, and they activate neural pathways that travel directly between the gut and the brain. The gut doesn’t seem capable of thought as we know it, but it communicates back and forth with our big brain—with profound results.

Photo by Lidya Nada

 

How food affects how we feel

Serotonin is one of our system’s neurotransmitter that has the most significant impact on our diet. Healthy foods contain vitamins and minerals that assist the activity of serotonin. Depending on our intake of these foods, serotonin may become less or more active. That makes sense that if our diet lacks such nutrients, it stimulates imbalances that can lead to mood disturbances/swings, irritability, and depression.

High levels of serotonin boost our mood, curb our cravings, increase our pain tolerance ,and help provide us a restful sleep; whereas, low levels of such can cause food cravings, insomnia, depression, increased pain sensitivity, aggressive behavior, and poor body temperature regulation.

Photo by Brooke Lark

Healthy eating prevents mental disorders

Eating healthy is rarely easy, especially if you’re trying to move away from the convenience of processed food that we get used to. But of course, if we want to live longer with better cognition and outlook in life, we have to be intentional with our eating habits. There is one popular diet that you may have already heard of and you might consider trying. Hailed as the best overall and easiest to follow, the Mediterranean diet promotes traditional healthy living practices that centered on eating large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish and olive oil—these are foods considered as ”anti-inflammatory foods”, coupled with the vital element of daily physical activity and sharing meals with friends and family—can reduce your risk of serious mental and physical health problems.

It is now recognized that many mental health conditions are primarily caused by inflammation of the brain which ultimately causes our brain cells to die– which leads to mental illnesses like depression, aneurysm, and Alzheimer’s disease. There is a major study that finds the Mediterranean diet has a positive effect on our mental health because it helps fight inflammation. This is because of the essential fats, Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), the central component of the Mediterranean diet. This healthy fat is also present in Oleia soft gel, a dietary food supplement that contains anti-inflammatory MUFA or MonoUnsaturated Fatty Acids. Taking Oleia soft gel daily is recommended by many health experts to prevent the risk of inflammation-related diseases. Oleia softgel MUFA supplement is an excellent companion on your way to healthy eating such as the Mediterranean diet– a realistic and the most sustainable way to live longer, reduce diseases and genuinely feel good inside.

Do you have the guts? Dare!

So, are you ready to live happier and longer? With a curious mind, why not try to start noticing how you feel and behave after eating certain food hours after you eat it until the next day? Then try to experiment by eating healthy (You know it when I say ‘healthy’ right? Avoid processed food –those high in sugar or high in salt foods!) Top it up with Oleia soft gel dietary supplement daily for 2-4 weeks and compare how different it can make you feel. If you feel good and more energized, then it looks like you’re on the right track. 

 

About The Author

Andrea is a full time home maker. When she is not busy taking care of her husband and kids, she goes out giving financial management talks. She is a proud breastfeeding mom for four years running and an avid Oleia user.

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