During this pandemic, junk food and alcohol sales have reached record numbers. And while we know they're not healthy to consume, rarely do you hear about how food impacts your mental well-being.
But now, Dr. Teralyn Sell, a psychotherapist and brain health expert, says the connection between food and your mood is real — especially when eating sugar.
"There's a lot of new research out there that is pointing to brain inflammation as a culprit of depression and anxiety and ADHD. So sugar is inflammatory. That is well researched. And the second thing that sugar does is it disrupts your blood sugar regulation," Sell explained.
That sugar spike can make you feel anxious, and when it drops, depressed.
Sell says alcohol has similar effects.
"Alcohol is a depressant. Alcohol actually impacts your GABA receptors, which are your calm receptors. Alcohol interrupts every single sleep phase in the middle of the night and it disrupts your blood sugar. It's also inflammatory," she said.
So what can help your mood?
Sell says protein, which helps stabilize your blood sugar.
"Something really fun with protein is bacon. Bacon is very high in tryptophan, which actually is in the serotonin pathway, which then down-regulates to melatonin helping you sleep. The second one is omega-three fatty acids. Now, these have been researched to, one, fight inflammation and to assist with brain health. So we have things like tuna or salmon, or even
flaxseed," Sell explained.
The third? Vitamin-B, which has a direct impact on your energy and immunity level.
"So one good source is eggs," she added.
Fourth? Vitamin D and even though there's lots of sunshine in Florida, many still have low levels because as you age, your body doesn't create as much vitamin D as you need.
"One thing that they have found in research is that drinking orange juice or eating citrus fruits, actually helps with vitamin D," she explained.
And the last food to consume? Products high in magnesium.
"Magnesium is what's called an anxiolytic, which helps you wind down and that's really good before bed. It's a nutrient co-factor and this dark chocolate might actually quell that sweet tooth as well."
And as you try to add more of these feel-good ingredients, Sell also recommends one more thing.
She says to drop that bowl of ice cream or glass of wine before bed and work on eating protein instead.
She says you'll sleep better and feel better.
For more tips on brain health and food, you can go to Dr. Sell's website at https://drteralyn.com/.