What role do nutrition and exercise play in your mental health?
Updated: Feb 8, 2022
Do you remember when you were a kid, and you would always hear “drink milk so your bones can grow strong” or “remember always to stretch after you exercise so your body can recover”? From a young age, we are taught basic principles in taking care of our bodies, but what about our mental health?
Let’s talk about it: Mental health and the discussion around it seems like it is everywhere, from the news to social media. While this is a significant advancement, this has not always been the case. Generations after generations were taught that mental health and your emotions were something that you either buried deep down or took to a diary. Just like taking care of your body, taking care of your mental health is arguably just as important.
How our brain controls both mental and physical health: Here is your psychology lesson for the day that you did not know you were receiving! Our brain contains approximately 80 billion nerve cells, called neurons. We have one that runs from our gut to our brain. It is called the Vagus Nerve and this is what we call the Gut/Brain Axis. So if our gut health is not in good shape, the nerve that runs to the brain is not getting the signaling that it needs either. This can create brain fog, mood swings, depression, anxiety, ADHD (symptoms or exaggerated).
The impact that nutrition has on our mental health: The foods that we consume have such an impact on the way that our entire system runs. Backing it all the way up to digestion and our gut health. If digestion is not optimal, then nutrients slip through the cracks which can lead to more internal exposure to toxins, skin problems, food sensitivities, migraines, osteoarthritis, eczema, asthma, mental health issues.
The impact that exercise has on our mental health: Have you ever gone on a run or went for a walk and felt instant relief once you were done? Well, that’s because when we exercise our body releases chemicals that boost our sense of well-being and suppress hormones that cause stress and anxiety. Physical activities such as working out enable a better firing of our feel-good neurochemicals which helps keep us happy and maintain emotional resilience. Adrenaline is oftentimes what causes feelings of anxiety and tension so when getting excess adrenaline out through movement we are less likely to feel the negative emotions.
How can I improve the connection between nutrition and your mental health?
Exercise (walking is amazing for this)
Take magnesium (nourishes the nervous system and helps ease anxiety, irritability, restlessness, fears, and symptoms of PMS
Eliminate bad fats and replace them with healthy omega-3’s
Balance Blood Sugar by eating a protein/fiber/fat at each meal
Chew your food well
Avoid eating when feeling anxious or rushed
Avoid high inflammatory foods - sugar, gluten, dairy, processed foods
Incorporate fresh ground flax
(There are many supplements/vitamins that support healing your gut that can improve mental health and your feelings)
Written by: Jennifer Page. Jenn is a Functional Health Coach that assists women in restoring their overall health. She does this by listening to each individual and creating a plan that is sustainable for them. To find out more follow her @newpagewellness.co or her website newpagewellness.co