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Nutrition’s Impact on Mental Health

We’ve all heard it said before that food is happiness. Usually, it’s in reference to comfort foods like mac n’ cheese, chocolate or pizza. But today, one dietitian spoke to the Mental Health Authority Board about foods that can actually improve your mental health.

The Traverse City based dietitian, Paula Martin spoke during the board’s educational session of the meeting. She explained that new research was finding more and more often that our gut health, and mental health are more interrelated than we think.

“There’s a lot of hormonal chemical messengers that are going back and forth between the gut and the brain, and these tiny little microbes in our gut are doing a lot of that control that’s happening,” she says.

The dietitian explained that microbes in our guts could determine how we digest food, and how that food presents in our mental health. She says a diet rich in diverse fibrous foods such as apples, asparagus, garlic, greens, and fermented foods is likely to increase levels of butyrate, which are essential to gut health.

And higher levels of butyrate, means lower levels of depression and anxiety. Martin says 2 cups a day of what she calls “the happiness foods” have almost immediate benefits, which means you can improve your mental health in just hours by eating the right foods.