Food and Mood

Has diet anything to do with how we feel? Can it really be true that food has anything to do with our emotional health? Can our diet be linked to our depressions and anxieties?

Well, research suggests that it well could be! Psychologists and psychiatrists around the globe are now opening their eyes to the possibility that food and mood indeed can be connected.

We all know that processed foods are full of additives. To ensure long shelf life, sugar, artificial flavoring, coloring. etc. etc. are added. Processed foods are “designed” to make us love it and to want more.

MSG, Monosodium glutamate, is used in research to make mice fat. Mice do not naturally have a tendency to be fat (do we?) so they give them MSG to make them eat more and become fat. MSG is added to 80% of processed food. MSG is a flavor enhancer that makes Mice and Men longing for more. (I warn you, if you make a Google search for MSG-Mice- Obesity, the stories and the photos are grim and disturbing)

All chemistry!

But the questions are coming, can it be that this “chemistry” in our food affects our bodies in more ways than we can even imagine? And, can this food chemistry affect our brains and our emotional state?

More than ever before there are processed foods available – in fact it is easier to get a hold of processed foods than it is to get a hold of an apple!

Our lifestyles and busy lives makes processed foods a convenient “necessity”. We eat more processed foods than ever before – more and more children get diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD),  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and depression.  According to the National Academy of Sciences, 1 in 5 children has an emotional behavioral condition. According to a survey conducted by the National institute of Mental Health – of a randomly selected group of adults between 2001 an 2003 – 46% had mental illness! And according to Charles Barber, the Author of “Comfortably Numb”, in 2006, 227 million! antidepressants were dispensed in USA. Can there be links between our food and our mental health?

Here are some things to think about: An Australian study showed that a Western diet high in processed foods and fat more than doubled the risk of ADHD – you can read the article  here 

Another source: Research from University College London found that eating a diet high in processed food increases the risk of depression. People who ate a diet with plenty of vegetable, fruit and fish had a lower risk of depression. They split the participants into two types of diet – those who ate a diet largely based on whole foods, including lots of fruits, vegetables and fish, and those who ate a mainly processed food diet, such as sweetened desserts, fried food, processed meat, refined grains and high fat dairy products . For more and a video see here  with the article ” Depression linked to processed foods” from the BBC and a video where a man explains how he cuts out processed foods from his diet and — his depression goes away!

There are psychological components as well as biological components in the emotional problems we suffer from, and it makes sense that the food we eat plays a huge role in our emotional well being. Maybe even a bigger role than we have thought of before. I believe that the day is close when all doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists will routinely ask their patients “what do you eat?”.

Personally, I have been really (pleasantly) surprised to feel the difference in my emotional health and well being after I cut down processed foods and added more plant-based foods into my life!

You can read my story here  - Actually the story that led me to see that there really is a connection between the way we eat and how we feel. But I had to try it to believe it.