Feeding the Mind
Updated: Oct 12, 2022
Can you influence your mood and behavior through nutrition and lifestyle strategies? Looking at your unique genetic variations along with personality patterns can help guide us. We can take that info and make changes to what we eat and how we live our lives day in and day out to improve our mood and potentially improve anxiety and depression. This information can even tell us if we are someone who is genetically more prone to addictive behaviors. Just having that information can open up ways for us to become more aware of how our daily habits are influencing us.
Your unique genetic variations can influence the utilization of nutrients and the efficiency of your individual biochemical pathways. These variations impact the building and breakdown of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These neurotransmitters shape our mood, memory, and behavioral characteristics. They are in charge of our alertness, focus, motivation, pleasure/reward system and so much more.
Obsession, impulsivity, anxiety, and depression are mainly influenced by our CACNA1C, BDNF, HTR1A, ANK3 and the family of DRD genes.
Your propensity for addictive behaviors which could range from risk for becoming addicted to food, smoking, drugs, gambling, or cannabis can be determined by CHRN5, FAAH, GABRA2, AKT1, and the OPRMI gene.
Feel stressed often, as if your ability to cope with situations is lower than other people? The answer may be in your genes. Your gene variation in the OXTR, COMT and MAO genes may influence your ability to deal with perceived stress.
And finally, our ability to breakdown neurotransmitters, which avoids their build up in the body, is indicative of our motivation levels, focus and attention as well as our propensity for mood swings. The COMT, MAO, MTHFR, MTR, MTRR, CYP26D and family of DRD genes are responsible for the catabolism or breakdown of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.
The good news is by knowing your unique genetic variations and evaluating your personality patterns there are nutrition and lifestyle strategies that can be utilized to help push our bodies to become more resilient to stress, improve our focus, decrease anxiety and depression and tamper down those addictive tendencies. Each gene variant and gene grouping can tell us what foods we need to increase or decrease and what lifestyle factors we need to hone in on to improve our mood and mental health.
Specific gene variations guide us to focus on certain foods and nutrients, such as incorporating more protein and foods high in the B Vitamins to help with brain chemical balance. We may need to focus on more of an anti-inflammatory diet to support gastrointestinal health if you have specific gene variations that affect serotonin production. Decreasing many foods that have an impact on mood, such as sugary and highly processed foods or even gluten and dairy, if they are inflammatory for you, can assist with that neurotransmitter balance. Focusing on the many foods and nutrients that support proper neurotransmitter breakdown is also key to positive mental health.
A Mediterranean focused nutrition plan will help you meet all these needs. Click on the icon to the right for a copy our Mediterranean recipe pack full of healthy and flavorful recipes.
There are many lifestyle strategies as well that can combat some of these gene variations that affect your mental health. Moderate exercise, meditation, mental affirmations, and getting out in nature (just going outside) have all been shown to assist with balancing stress hormones. If you are more of a fast metabolizer of neurotransmitters, increasing your endorphins such as dopamine and oxytocin can boost pleasure, motivation, improve mood and sleep. Gratitude journaling, laughing, hugging a loved one, petting an animal, exercise, dancing, and creative hobbies can all assist with increasing your pleasure/reward pathways.
Grab your daily reminder to balancing stress hormones and increasing your pleasure pathways by clicking on the icon to the right or if you are interested in a sample genetic report click below:
This is the first of series of blogs and social media posts that will cover the relationship between genetics, nutrition, and lifestyle’s influence on mood on behavior. Join me as I dive deeper into the genes discussed above, learn about the personality characteristics that accompany them and discover things to increase or decrease in your daily diet and/or lifestyle strategies that can affect your mental health and wellbeing.
Food can most definitely nourish the MIND!
Stay tuned to find more details on how all this works!
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