10 Foods That Benefit Blood Sugar
Anxiety and depression are inextricably linked with overall health, and, of course, overall health and nutrition are inextricably linked, as well. While nutrient deficiencies and poor diet quality don’t necessarily cause these conditions, they can be contributing factors in a person’s struggle, and improving nutritional health is a vital component in bettering mental health.
However, it often also works conversely--depression can frequently trigger poor eating habits. Emotional eating and binge eating are frequent problems for people struggling with depression. Comfort foods, foods that are high in carbohydrates and saturated fat and low in nutritional value, are common choices for emotional eaters, and these foods do little to strengthen the mental health of their eaters.
High carbohydrate foods tend to cause spikes in blood sugar and endorphins, which can feel like a “high” to a person feeling stressed or sad. However, that spike is short-lived, and is usually followed by a “crash,” where the person feels even worse than prior to eating. High fat foods taste good and feel comforting while eating, but, when eaten in large quantities, can cause bloating and nausea. The entire process of overeating and then feeling poorly can create a vicious cycle and lower self-esteem, as people begin to feel out of control of their own eating.
However, if the cycle can be overcome with good counseling and learning to home manage emotions properly, a healthful and mindful diet can help to fuel recovery. Mindful eating can help people feel in control again, which can lead to better self-esteem. Plus, the ingredients in the food can help improve mental health. The vitamins and minerals in a healthy diet packed with fruits, vegetables, legumes, fatty fish, and whole grains help support good brain function. Some amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are essential in building neurotransmitters (serotonin and dopamine, for example).
Depression and anxiety supplements may also help some people to support a healthy nervous system and promote emotional health. For example, lithium, St. John’s wort, and S-adenosyl methionine (also known as SAM) the original source are commonly used and thought to be effective for treating depression.
People who think they may be experiencing depression or anxiety should talk with a physician, counselor, or psychologist to help with taking the first steps towards regaining mental health, and health overall.