This is the first part of a series that examines aspects of diet, supplements, exercise, and stress reduction and relaxation techniques as it relates to our health and well being.
Nutrition, Supplements and Disposition
Many folks recognize that by eating a better diet and taking nutritional supplements their mood is better, for others that connection may not be apparent. Yes, there are many ways a poor diet can influence our mood. Stress may increase the requirements for specific nutrients. Digestive issues can interfere with the absorption of beneficial compounds. Consider the effects of aging and environmental factors and the issues become increasingly complex.
However, there is an abundance of evidence linking nutrition and mood.
The American Chemical Society (ACS), a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress, has more than 164,000 members. The ACS is the world’s largest scientific society. Research was presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society this past august and their press release described the work of Karina Martinez-Mayorga, Ph.D. Her study of the effect of various food compounds on mood suggests that molecules in chocolate, many types of berries and foods containing omega-3 fatty acids positively affect mood. Martinez-Mayorga and her research partners found that the chemical food components are similar to valproic acid, the primary ingredient in several pharmaceutical mood stabilizers, including Depakene, Depakote and Stavzor.
Why food is so important
To evaluate nutritional influences on mood, it helps to understand some basic, common sense principles. Be assured that there is no substitute for a healthy diet. Supplements can’t fully replicate the beneficial effects of wholesome fare. There are just too many compounds found in whole foods to ever be captured by a pill, powder or drink. These compounds exert effects directly, as outlined in Martinez-Mayorga’s research. More fundamentally, the vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and phytonutrients are cofactors in every process of the body. That includes the production of specific neurotransmitters or brain signal molecules.
Food provides both energy and the materials needed to build and maintain all body cells. (Perspectives in Nutrition, Wardlaw and Insel, 1996).
Good Supplement Sense
Judicious use of good quality nutritional supplements can be included to complement a sound eating plan. The trick is to avoid the temptation to swallow any misleading advertising along with the products. It can lull consumers into thinking that they can achieve optimum health results with just supplements, neglecting the principles of good nutrition.