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Foods To Improve Mental Health

Posted by Christina Pistotnik



Mental Health is a Men’s Health Issue

During Movember, discussions are typically focused on cancer and physical well being, but did you know that there is also a mental health component?Raising awareness about men’s mental health is just as important.

According to the Canadian government (1) men are 3 times more likely to commit suicide compared to women, as well as less likely to report depression or anxiety. 

I get it, mental health issues can be hard to talk about. Coming from my own personal experience, sometimes I feel like I am lesser of a person if I admit that I’m having a mental health problem. However, I have learned that there is a certain kind of strength that comes from owning my issues. Which enables me to take better control, ask for help and even make necessary changes, like eating right.


The Gut-Brain Axis

One of the most interesting things I have learned in relation to mental health is that what we put into our bodies really does affect our mental well being.

This is because research is uncovering a correlation between gut health and mental health.  Evidence shows that the communication between the brain and the gut is mediated by the gut-brain axis, which entails the enteric and central nervous systems.

Clinical findings are showing a strong correlation between inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and the disruption of balance to its healthy microbiome. This imbalance in turn leads to symptoms of disease throughout the body and the mind (2). 

It’s difficult to determine whether it’s stress that causes this disruption or if the disruption causes the stress, anxiety and/ or depression. But we do know that poor diet disrupts the GI’s microbiome. 

The good news is that there are foods that contain probiotics and prebiotics that help keep our GI tract happy and healthy, which in turn helps keep our minds happy and healthy as well!

Probiotics

Probiotics are the beneficial live bacteria that are naturally created in the process of food fermentation. They aid in digestion, immunity, and the stomach’s production of serotonin.

Probiotic Food Sources

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tempeh
  • Kimchi
  • Miso
  • Kombucha
  • Pickles
  • Traditional buttermilk

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are indigestible fibres from plants that ferment in the GI tract, where they help feed and proliferate probiotics. They increase the body’s ability to absorb minerals, strengthen the immune system and improve bowel regularity.

Prebiotic Food Sources

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Apples
  • Seaweed
  • Flaxseeds
  • Dandelion greens 
  • Artichokes 

Asking for help

As I stated before, it is also important to ask for help if you are suffering from mental health issues. Break the stigma by speaking to partners, family or close friends about what you are going through.  The people in your life are there because they care. That said, if you are not comfortable with that, that’s ok too.

I urge you to then at least find a psychologist that you are willing to speak to. It is especially important to seek help if you are having suicidal thoughts by contacting crisis support. They truly are there to help in times of need. 

We are teaming up with Chef Blair from popular Edmonton Restaurant RGE RD to create a Movember ‘Mo-ment’. Join us for a Mindful Eating for Men Cooking Class at Rge Rd. All proceeds go to Movember.

Check our Events page or call 780-756-7736 today to register.
Space is Limited!

References

  1. Government of Canada. Suicide in Canada: Key Statistics (Infographic). August 1, 2019. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/healthy-living/suicide-canada-key-statistics-infographic.html
  1. Mayer EA, Knight R, Mazmanian SK, Cryan JF, Tillisch K. Symposium: Gut Microbes and the Brain. The Journal of Neuroscience. November 12, 2014;34(46):1549015496. http://www.jneurosci.org/content/jneuro/34/46/15490.full.pdf

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