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Mental Health, Inflammation and Mood
The link between them and a discussion of better foods for better moods.
Mental health issues have a huge impact on society. Some suggest that their impact is larger than any other chronic disease, including heart disease or diabetes.
There are so many factors involved in complex conditions like mental health issues. Science is just starting to unravel one of these factors – inflammation.
First, we’ll go over the many links between inflammation and mental health (there are a few). Then, we’ll talk about some exciting research into natural approaches – things like foods, nutrients, and lifestyle upgrades – and how these are related to better mental health.
NOTE: None of these are a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have any of these conditions, make sure you’re being monitored regularly by a licensed healthcare professional.
What is Inflammation?
The word inflammation comes from the Latin word “inflammo,” meaning “I set alight, I ignite”, “set on fire” or “inflame”.
Because inflammation can become harmful, it has gotten a lot of bad press lately. However, inflammation isn’t always a bad thing. As in most areas of health, it’s the balance that’s important.
Inflammation is actually a natural process that our body uses to protect against infections, irritants, and damage. Inflammation helps our bodies eliminate damaged cells and tissues, and helps them to repair. It also helps to reduce the cause of the damage, for example, by fighting the infection. Inflammation that happens in a big way, but for a short time can help the body to heal these injuries and infections.
On the other hand, lower levels of inflammation sometimes stick around longer than necessary. This long-term “chronic” inflammation can cause damage over time. Often, there are few, if any, signs or symptoms. It’s this chronic inflammation that is linked to many conditions including mental health, heart disease, and diabetes.
Inflammation mostly comes from our immune system’s response to infections and injuries. It also involves our blood vessels (arteries and veins) and other molecules. A few of these inflammatory molecules, or “markers,” include free radicals (oxidants), cytokines, and C-reactive protein (CRP).
So, what are the links between inflammation and mental health?
Inflammation and Mental Health
Link #1 - Inflammation and Mental Health
Link #2 - Inflammatory Illnesses and Mental Health
Link #3 - Inflammatory Medications and Mental Health
Link #4 - Inflammatory Diets and Mental Health
My personal mental health strategy comes with self-improvement and mental toughness strategies. I love reading self-improvement books and I highly recommend them to anyone and everyone. 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class is one of my favourites!
Things like learning to let things go and practicing positive self-talk can go a long way towards one's happiness and living a less stressful life. Another great book is What to Say When You Talk to Yourself.
Foods and Moods
- Saturated fat and processed meats;
- Refined sugars and starches; and
- Fried and processed foods.
Better foods for better moods
The SMILES trial
- Eat more vegetables, whole grains, fruit, legumes, low-fat unsweetened dairy, raw and unsalted nuts, fish, lean red meat, chicken, eggs and olive oil; and
- Eat less sweets, refined grains, fried food, fast food, processed meats and sugary drinks; and,
- Drink no more than 2 glasses of wine per day (with meals, preferably red wine).
Better nutrition for better moods
B-vitamins such as B6, B9 (folic acid), and B12
Minerals (Calcium & Selenium)
Better lifestyle for better moods
Lifestyle Factor #1 - Exercise
Lifestyle Factor #2 - Sleep
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