The Importance of gut health for mental health
Our mind and our gut are intrinsically linked, not only by the millions of nerve endings that connect the two but also by the hormones and neurotransmitters that are produced in our gut that are fundamental to support mental health (serotonin, dopamine and GABA).
Eating foods that support the function of our gut can help to support our mental health.
How can a change in diet help with PTSD?
Nutrition plays a key role in the structure and function of our brain and body. An improvement in the quality of diet can help someone with PTSD in 3-ways.
- PTSD is often linked with stress related eating disorders, emotional eating and poor diet quality. A diet with a low intake of fruits, vegetables and wholegrains has been linked to anxiety and depression. Improving diet quality can support therapy and improve outcomes.
- PTSD has been linked with increased risk of chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Improving diet quality can help lower those risks.
- PTSD involves an inflammatory response, oxidative stress, brain chemical irregularities and disruptions to the gut microbiome. Specific, manageable and sustainable changes to the diet have been shown to improve these biological mechanisms underlying PTSD. Current research trials are investigating the benefit of a PTSD specific diet.
How can our dietitians help?
Optimum Intake Dietitians can offer support for our clients with a diagnosis of PTSD in two ways;
- Management of treatment side effects – many of the medications that are used to treat PTSD have side effects that affect the function of the gastrointestinal tract and a change in diet can help to normalise these symptoms. We can assist with the management of constipation, nausea, dry mouth, weight maintenance and the disruption to glycemic control which can be caused by SSRI’s antidepressants and mood stabilisers. Also, those prescribed monoamine oxidase inhibitors may require a low tyramine diet to stabilise protein levels.
- Individual treatment to improve gut health – as dietitians we often hear our clients say “I know what I need to do” and sometimes they are right, or at least they have an understanding of the basics. At Optimum Intake, we understand that living with PTSD can make it extremely difficult to live a healthy life and find motivation to support your body nutritiously. What we do is work with you to create a nutrition treatment plan that is individual, manageable and sustainable to allow time to create maximum benefit for you.
Please contact our office on 0499 008 451 if you would like further information or would like to book an appointment.