CBC Radio – Maintaining good mental health can sometimes feel challenging, but it turns out one piece of the puzzle is deceptively simple — what’s on your plate.
“Nutrition and mental health is this connection that people have actually been writing about for centuries,” Dr. Mary Scourboutakos, who goes by Dr. Sco., told Dr. Brian Goldman, host of CBC’s The Dose.
“But only now are we getting this evidence to accumulate to support this connection,” said Dr. Sco, a family doctor who also has a PhD in nutrition.
Research shows that the types of microbes found in our gut, or gastrointestinal tract, could have a direct impact on our mood.
And experts say that changing your diet is one of the best ways to influence those microbes, which could in turn help people suffering from mental illness.
“It’s a question of augmenting a tool that we’re already using, which is very encouraging,” said Dr. Sco.
In one Canadian study, researchers were able to show that when 10- and 11-year-olds met recommendations for diet, as well as sleep, physical activity and screen time, they were less likely to need mental health interventions as adolescents.
“That’s very, very powerful,” said Dr. Bonnie Kaplan, a psychologist and professor emeritus at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine.
“The children who are eating real food have fewer reports of anxiety and depression,” said Kaplan …
How does our gut talk to our brain?
Our gut — or gastrointestinal system — is connected to the brain, which is how diet can directly affect mood.
Inside the gut is our microbiome, made up of trillions of swirling bacteria — some good and some bad.
“They help us digest our food. They help inform and strengthen the lining of the gut wall. They outcompete bad bacteria. And they’re basically like the thermostat that controls the level of inflammation in our body,” said Dr. Sco.