An intelligent man once said, “Show me what you eat and I’ll show you who you are.” Now more and more studies are discovering the impact of food on our psychology and the way it can affect our mood.
Connection Between Diet and Mental Health
For decades, physicians have been trying to solve the mystery of mental illnesses and understand the underlying cause of depression which affects millions of people around the world today, and now a new theory is gaining popularity among researchers which could explain why mental illnesses are on the rise and how they could be connected to our increasingly unhealthy eating habits.
According to the authors of a historical article published in the Gut Pathogens journal, our own intestinal microbes are poisoning us through a process called autointoxication – and that could be a leading cause behind neuroses and melancholia.
Bond Stow, a doctor who wrote an article for Medical Record Journal of Medicine and Surgery in 1914 warned about the acute danger intestinal bacterial flora poses to our mental health. He said that even though it is quite easy to establish control over one’s diet, achieving mastery over these intestinal microbes which live inside the gut, is often impossible.
This explains why so many of us fall victim to autointoxication in our daily lives which leads to dangerous symptoms like fatigue, lack of motivation in all aspects of life, and sadness which is borderline melancholia.
Changing Eating Habits and Increasing Depression Rates
Stow was one of the first researchers to create a link between our gut microflora and general mood, and now more and more physicians are starting to see a point behind Stow’s theory about the impact of our diet on mental health.
Of course, some of the remedies proposed by the doctor to fight depression in early medical times, such as removing the colon or eating rotten meat, weren’t exactly correct, neither was the theory that our gut contains harmful toxins that are slowly poisoning us. However, Stow was right about one thing: our mood is affected by our diet, and the gut microflora play a key role in the process.
Dr. Daniel R Brower from Rush Medical College says that the dietary habits in the Western World have changed significantly in the past few decades – and so have the number of mental illness and depression cases. He suspects that the toxins from our unhealthy diet are to blame for increasing lack of motivation and unhappiness.
The Dash Diet
Our unhealthy eating habits are already affecting mortality rates and increasing risk of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. According to a recent study, one in five deaths worldwide is linked to poor diet.
Meanwhile, depression is the most prevalent mental disability in the world affecting millions of people every day. If diet is truly linked to the way we feel, most people with unhealthy eating patterns can get sucked into a vicious cycle of depression which can make them more and more sick and thereby causing a significant damage to their physical and mental health.
So, what’s the solution to the depression epidemic that is affecting an increasing number of people every day? Physicians think that a certain type of diet called the Dash diet, which promotes the consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, could be helpful in lowering depression rates.
On the other hand, traditional western diets loaded with unhealthy fats, processed meats, cheeses, and refined sugars can have the opposite effect on our mood and make us more depressed.
Food as Medicine?
A recent study conducted on 964 participants of the age of 60 and above proved a link between diet and general mood.
Participants were divided into two different groups: one of them followed the Dash diet while the other followed a traditional western diet. After 6 years of observing the participants, researchers concluded that people who had unhealthy diet were more prone to developing depression.
Of course, old standbys like exercise and adequate rest are equally important for your mental health which is why most people who suffer from depression are advised to exercise regularly as well as look after their diet.