Did you know that what we eat has a significant impact on our mental well-being?
While life brings challenges that cause ups and downs, mood swings should not be considered normal. That goes for menstrual cycles too. PMS symptoms, while commonly thought of as a normal part of menstrual cycles, don't occur in all menstruating women. Prominent PMS symptoms usually appear more in women with imbalances or conditions that cause aggravated symptoms.
Even though mood swings are not as severe as diagnosable disorders, they can feel life-altering. We need to remember that mood swings are not an inevitable part of life. Therefore, we have to tackle them at the root.
What could be going on?
A significant part of our nervous system resides in our gut. A compromise in our gut balance leads to mood swings. The brain regulates the nervous system, but there is a separate "gut brain" (enteric nervous system) that influences how the brain and nervous system function.
Even though other factors (like blood sugar balance, hormone conditions like thyroid disease, medication side effects, or sleep deprivation) can impact our moods, gut health can also lead to any or all of the above.
Leaky gut is a condition where the junctions of the small intestinal weaken as a result of toxins, food allergies, or foreign particles. It can happen to anyone of any age. It's common, particularly in people with chronic or autoimmune conditions—although leaky gut itself can contribute to these conditions.
When intestinal gateways loosen, undigested food and other particles enter the bloodstream. The body reacts with inflammation, autoimmune problems, and a disruption of homeostasis.
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is another form of gut disruption in the small intestine. The "good" bacteria that reside in the large intestine and colon increase in the small intestine instead. This leads to gut problems like nutrient malabsorption, diarrhea, and painful bloating.
It's possible to have both leaky gut and SIBO. Both conditions are linked with brain disorders like depression, anxiety, and also sleep disorders. These conditions interfere with the nervous system by affecting how the body absorbs vital nutrients, especially B vitamins. B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning that they need regular replacement since the body doesn't store them within fatty tissue. If you suffer from B vitamin deficiencies (especially B6 and B12), you may experience increased insomnia, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, and other disruptive symptoms. Health professionals can sometimes misdiagnose this and prescribe medication, masking the symptoms further.
To address the root cause of mood disorders, we need to restore the homeostatic balance of the gut.
Restoring balance to your gut
You need a gut-friendly diet, meaning one that is anti-inflammatory. Your first line of defense is to reverse inflammation with antioxidants that repair the damage done by this fiery interference.
A Paleo diet is one of the strategies for maintaining gut health. However, just because something is Paleo doesn't mean it balances moods. A Paleo diet focused on mood, and mental health will contain:
i) Omega-3. Many Paleo eaters tend to rely heavily on nuts (high in omega-6 ), but they provide fewer omega-3s. To avoid this imbalance, eat more wild-caught seafood. A low intake of omega-3 is associated with mood disorders.
Note: While it's vital to eat wild-caught seafood regularly, you need to maintain a balance between the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Other foods rich in omega-3 include flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, oysters, mackerel, salmon, and leafy greens like spinach.
ii) Eggs. They're rich in folate and other B vitamins, protein, fat, and other essential nutrients. Eggs also contain omega-3 fatty acids as well as selenium, a mood-boosting nutrient that helps maintain stability in the brain.
A deficiency in selenium is associated with anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. Avoid highly processed foods, as these are often selenium deficient.
iii) Bone Broth. This gut-healing food contains collagen, glutamine, and glycine, which repair the digestive tract and therefore increase nutrient absorption.
If you have histamine intolerance or SIBO, you may have difficulty consuming bone broth. You could use plain dehydrated bone broth, DIY low-histamine bone broth (no garlic, onions, or spices), or a pure collagen supplement instead.
iv) Leafy Greens. If you have SIBO, some green vegetables might give you issues, like broccoli, cabbage, and Brussel sprouts. Go for chard, romaine, spinach, beet greens, watercress, and kale instead. They're rich in B vitamins and antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C. Their fiber can also aid in the elimination of toxins. Toxic buildup anywhere in the body has a direct impact on the nervous system.
If you've been living with mood swings thinking they're a normal part of life, now you know there's something you can do about it. Eating for your health becomes more meaningful when you realize that it goes beyond weight and energy- it can impact how you think, feel, and respond to life.
The Sole Toscana Beauty Team