There is no getting around it. What you put in your body affects your mental clarity as well as your physical health. This of course will directly affect your mindfulness practice. That’s why we have decided to take the next few posts to talk about food, mood, and mind.
I could probably write volumes about diet and mind, but I’d like to stick to a few key nutrients that the body can’t adequately make on it’s own without proper nutrition (but first, let me put these Junior Mints down). Likewise, many chemicals and junk foods we consume can have an adverse affect on the body’s ability to produce these mind-enhancing chemicals.
Let’s take a look at four key brain-boosting nutrients:
Serotonin – Thanks to the aggressive marketing of the newest class of antidepressants (SSRIs), most of us are familiar with neurotransmitter serotonin. In a sentence, serotonin works to help us feel happy. Many factors affect the amount of serotonin in the body, including diet, stress, chemical additives, and our genetic ability to regulate the amount of serotonin in the brain. The body needs certain nutrients from food to make serotonin. That’s why dieters who restrict or eliminate certain types of food, like carbohydrates, will often experience low mood.
L-theanine – Sometimes called theanine, helps you feel calm and focused. That’s a rare combo, is it not? Food and supplements that contain theanine have been proven to create a sense of calm without making you feel drowsy. Feeling calm without feeling drowsy is my main goal in life, so I’m all for more L theanine. Check out Breakaway Matcha for a super boost of L-theanine.
Dopamine – helps you get focused and motivated. Dopamine is associated with the reward center in the brain. No dopamine – no motivation to change or stay focused on a project. Unfortunately, many of us turn to addictive substances and behavior to get a dopamine boost. This may be fun in the short term, but in the long run your body’s dopamine production will start to depend on these substances.
GABA – short for gamma-aminobutryic acid, helps calm the mind. Mindfulness practices have been shown to increase GABA, but diet can also aid in the production of GABA.
That’s enough to chew on for now, don’t you think? Our next post will include some nutrition ideas to naturally boost these important chemicals along with a ‘mindfulness maximization’ grocery list.
Read more about diet and brain function in these mindful hub-approved books….
We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!