The relationship of nutrition with emotional well-being
Jul 16, 2021
Emotional well-being is not based solely on how we manage our emotions through actions such as meditating, having fun with friends, or crying when we need to.
An act as seemingly mundane as eating also influences him through various psychological pathways and processes.. Let's see how it does it.
- Related article: "Emotional management: 10 keys to master your emotions"
The neuropsychological implications of nutrition
What we eat has a clear impact on what happens in our brain.
For example, some amino acids such as tryptophan, widely available in certain foods, are required for key neurotransmitters in our nervous system (in the case of tryptophan, serotonin, a substance closely linked to the feeling of calm and well-being). Neurotransmitters are molecules that our neurons use to communicate with each other.
They are something like the pieces of a message, and they are constantly emitting and capturing them both in the brain and in the rest of the nervous system distributed throughout the human body.
In addition, as this exchange of chemical substances is "burning stages", changes are consolidated in our brain: changes in the the way in which our neurons connect with each other and the way in which they are activated or deactivated when receiving certain neurotransmitters. There is no instruction manual that explains what happens when a neuron receives X molecule, it all depends on its position, the neurons it is connected to and what has happened to it before. Nerve cells learn just like we do.
It is here, among other aspects of the functioning of the brain, where the way in which the obtaining of nutrients and chemical processes in general influence the psychological is clearly seen: without neurotransmitters there can be no brain activity. And the brain is characterized by being constantly on the go, even when we sleep; it is the engine of human experience and of our own survival as autonomous beings capable of being aware of what is happening to us.
In addition, the fact that our neurons are always maintaining a dialogue based on chemical reactions is behind our ability to adapt to what life presents us with. As our nervous system is always transforming anatomically and functionally depending on the experiences we go through and the chemical state of our nerve cells, we evolve as people.
Of course, consuming some types of psychotropic drugs under medical supervision is a way to increase or minimize the effects of these neurotransmitters in our body, but in the vast majority of cases eating a balanced diet is the most effective and beneficial way to ensure that there is a balance in the functioning of our nervous system.
In addition, it has been known for years that the Central Nervous System, made up of the brain and spinal cord, is closely related to a wide network of neurons distributed throughout the digestive system, particularly in the intestines.
Thus, our brain maintains a two-way communication relationship with the nutrient extraction processes that occur in parts of the body relatively remote from it, both via the nerve cells and the neuroendocrine network (there is no need to forget that neurons are highly conditioned by the hormones that circulate through our body through the blood, and vice versa).
- You may be interested in: "Serotonin: 6 effects of this hormone on your body and mind"
Nutrition and emotional well-being
So far we have seen the relationship between nutrition and the functioning of the nervous system in general and the brain in particular, but if we want to understand the human mind and our way of feeling and behaving, we must broaden the focus and see beyond the cells nervous
Emotional well-being is not reduced to chemical processes (although they participate in it), and it also incorporates a behavioral dimension: what we do to relate to our environment and ourselves themselves. And this is also influenced by nutrition, although in a somewhat more subtle and indirect way.
And is that nutrition cannot be totally decoupled from food. If nutrition is a process that begins and ends within our body and is based on the extraction and nutrient processing, feeding is a behavioral phenomenon, based on our actions as individuals. The way we relate to food is food, and unlike nutrition, we can modulate it through conscious decisions.
Now, in most cases, the actions that make up our diet are not conscious; we do them spontaneously, without thinking too much We get used to eating certain foods, snacking between meals, combining the ingredients in a way determined... This can be good in some cases (it would be very tiring to have to stop to think and decide something every time we are going to eat or prepare food), and bad in others. For example, many people develop emotional problems involving their eating habits.
This happens a lot with foods rich in carbohydrates; our body has evolved so that we have a preference for sweets or for those with many carbohydrates, since they are signs that we will extract a lot of energy from them; But if we go on to try to "cover" our discomfort with these foods, sooner or later we will develop physical health and emotional management problems. Eating without hunger is usually something we do without realizing that we don't really need food, but the The fact that it offers us a momentary distraction makes us lose perspective and not see that, in the long run, it is worse.
So that, the relationship we learn to maintain with food is key when it comes to explaining whether we are worse or better at maintaining a good level of emotional well-being. While we adjust our actions to satisfy above all the needs based on the nutrition, we will be favoring that our body has the ingredients it needs, nor more no less.
Do you want to have professional psychological assistance?
On Vibra Wellbeing We work offering psychotherapy to enhance emotional management skills both from the management of actions and from the management of thoughts and attention. In addition, we have a team of nutritionists specialized in emotional and digestive health.
If you are interested in having our services, contact us.