By Jared Graybeal, CEO of Superfit Foods
To watch video, click here.
In October of 2015, my mom suffered from a massive hemorrhagic stroke. She was found unconscious and was life-flighted to Tampa General hospital for emergency brain surgery. The incident was heartbreaking, but the causes were very clear; my mom had high blood pressure, irregular sleeping patterns and lived off of a typical American or “western” diet.
I’ll save you time from telling you the whole story of her recovery, but by closely monitoring her diet, working with her regularly on physical therapy and praying relentlessly, my mom made virtually a full recovery.
I watched as each time we upgraded my mom’s nutrient source, she made miraculous leaps in her recovery. From liquid supplements, to soft food, to hard food, and then to whole foods once she was capable of eating on her own. As soon as I could, I got her off of hospital food and fed her the stuff I knew to be healthy and nutritious.
After reading so far, you may be thinking, “I’m sure the doctors helped, too.” And yes, of course they did. But due to the severity of her stroke, every practitioner that worked with her told me it would be a miracle if she ever spoke again. I was there the day my mom said her first words (shortly after her first soft foods meal) and I was there the day she walked again (about a week after eating hard foods consistently). I know she wouldn’t have recovered the way she did without my relentless efforts to monitor her intake.
Why is this story important?
Because it was this incident that fueled my passion for learning just how much the things we eat impact our brain…
I thought to myself, “if nutrition played this big of a role in my mom’s miraculous recovery from literally death to life, what else can food do for the brain?”
Through my research, I found the things we eat can either positively or negatively impact the management and/or possible recovery of certain illnesses like anxiety, depression, OCD, ADHD, dementia and even autism.
To simplify my research, here are:
4 WAYS THAT YOUR NUTRITION CAN MAKE YOU HAPPIER
(keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive. I kept it as short as possible so this would be easy to read and apply):
1. MORE SEROTONIN
The “happiness drug” is a chemical called Serotonin that induces wellbeing, confidence and happiness in the brain. When many people are prescribed prescription drugs for anxiety and depression, it most often contains a chemical that increases the production of Serotonin in the brain.
Since about 95% of the Serotonin produced in the body is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, it only makes sense that by feeding your body good nutrients it can guide your positive emotions.
Foods said to potentially increase serotonin production are eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, turkey and fish.
2. LESS INFLAMMATION
Studies have shown that when people take probiotics (supplements containing the good bacteria), their anxiety levels, perception of stress and mental outlook improve, compared with people who did not take probiotics.
Instead of taking probiotic supplements, you can also produce these probiotics by eating healthier foods.
Studies show a “traditional” diet (like the Mediterranean diet), as opposed to a typical “Western” diet, can decrease your risk of depression by 25% – 35%. Scientists account for this difference because these traditional diets tend to be high in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains and fish/ seafood, and to contain only modest amounts of lean meats and dairy. They avoid processed and refined foods and sugars as they can negatively affect digestion and cause inflammation.
3. NO MORE BEING HANGRY
When you skip meals or eat meals high in sugar, your blood sugar eventually falls. Then, the hormones cortisol and epinephrine are released in an attempt to raise it back to normal. Those hormones lead to irritability, aggression and sometimes sadness, which explains why you’re so crabby.
So when 1PM comes around and you’re questioning all your life decisions, what you think is mild anxiety or depression during your mid-day slump at work may simply be your diet and your inconsistent blood sugar levels.
4. BETTER SLEEP
Countless studies have shown how bad sleeping patterns correlate with obesity, anxiety and depression. Even without the studies, I’m sure we’d all agree that having better sleep would lead to a better life.
By avoiding foods that you’re allergic to, high saturated fats, spicy foods and processed foods, you can increase the quality of your sleep and the quality of your life.
Drew Ramsey, MD, an assistant clinical professor at Columbia University says, “Traditionally, we haven’t been trained to ask about food and nutrition, but diet is potentially the most powerful intervention we have. By helping people shape their diets, we can improve their mental health and decrease their risk of psychiatric disorders.”
It’s not just a problem for adults. Half of all long-term mental disorders start by age 14. Today, childhood mental illness affects more than 17 million kids in the U.S.
So as you can tell from reading so far, what we eat can literally make our conditions worse, or in some cases, even cause them.
The good news is: you have the power to change it.. today!
Eating healthy just takes discipline and a little bit of education. Fortunately, there are plenty of companies and services out there that are designed to help people with this. If Superfit Foods, or any of our community partners like Dietitians of Palm Valley can be of any assistance to you, let us know.
Please keep in mind this article is not intended to suggest alternative forms of treatment if you are currently dealing with clinical levels of any mentioned mental illnesses. If you are on prescription medication, please continue to take it and inform your doctor if you decide to make positive changes to your diet so they can continue to monitor your results.
- Dietitians of Palm Valley
- Superfit Foods