How Digestion Impacts Mental Health
Adequate digestion is key to maintaining optimal levels of mental wellness. There is a direct relationship between the nutrient pool in our body and our brain chemistry, specifically of 5 neurotransmitters. These specific transmitters are responsible for moods, depression, anger management, problem resolution, and energy and activity levels. If we do not make the necessary nutrients available to the body from our food, we are unable to produce the proteins/neurotransmitters we need. Low levels of one or more essential amino acids results in low levels of one or more neurotransmitters, with resulting varying degrees of depression. Therefore, adequate digestion of proteins is crucial to mental health.
So much of our mental wellness is based on what nutrients are available to our bodies. Optimizing diet/nutrients and digestion is often the biggest "missing piece" when it comes to balancing our emotional health. While amino acids, vitamins, and minerals are crucial, we also cannot forget the role of fatty acids on mental health. They are required for the proper transport of nutrients into and out of our cells, they feed anti-inflammatory pathways (decreasing free radical production), and form the sheathing around nerves.
Ensuring proper digestion is of utmost importance for mental health. In order to properly digest food, we must be in a parasympathetic state when dining. Are you digesting what you eat?
JENNIFER SWEENIE, NTP
Nutritional Therapy Practitioner & Chef