We see that you have javascript disabled. Please enable javascript and refresh the page to continue reading local news. If you feel you have received this message in error, please contact the customer support team at 1-833-248-7801.

Sponsored By

Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Your brain on food: Exploring the link between diet and mental health

Delores Alleckson, a nurse practitioner at Essentia Health in Detroit Lakes, often sees people with a variety of mood disorders. Alleckson said some disorders require medications, while others can be addressed with dietary changes, or a combination of both.

bad food impact.jpg
Delores Alleckson, a nurse practitioner at Essentia Health who specializes in psychology, often sees people with mood disorders. Sometimes a change in diet can fix some of the issues people are facing.
Contributed
We are part of The Trust Project.

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — A link between what people consume and their mental health has become more apparent in the medical profession.

Delores Alleckson, a nurse practitioner at Essentia Health in Detroit Lakes who specializes in psychology and is certified as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, often sees people with a variety of mood disorders.

With more than a dozen years of primarily outpatient care, Alleckson said some disorders require medications, while others can be addressed with dietary changes, or a combination of both.

delores-alleckson.jpg
Delores Alleckson, a nurse practitioner at Essentia Health who specializes in psychology, often sees people with mood disorders. Sometimes a change in diet can fix some of the issues people are facing.<br/><br/><br/>
Contributed / Essentia Health

Alleckson explained food additives, such as artificial sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup or gluten can wreak havoc inside the body and reduce the ability to absorb vital nutrients.

Gluten, which is found in wheat, beer and pasta, can take up to six months to fully expel from one’s system, she said. In the meantime, one may experience fatigue, anemia, diarrhea and bloating.

ADVERTISEMENT

“But after you stop eating it you may feel better within a month,” Alleckson said. “If you eat something while you’re cleaning your body, your body will tell you it is not good. It happened to me. I was in a rush and ate a chicken salad with sour cream on it. Before I started eating better, I couldn’t get enough sour cream on my potatoes. After eating it on the salad, my mouth was sore.”

When the body is not able to absorb nutrients there can be health effects, such as weight loss, anemia, memory problems and more.

For example, Alleckson explained that people on a vegan diet (particularly children and teens), risk being deficient in Vitamin B12. Those with a B12 deficiency (which is found in beef, chicken and liver) may suffer from fatigue, depression, pale appearance and anxiety.

It is not just foods that create health concerns. While coffee is still a popular go-to, many are switching to energy drinks. Both can cause people to feel angry, impulsive and even lead to sleep deprivation, she said.

"People are sorely lacking in water intake," she said, noting those who add flavor enhancers to the water should look at the ingredients, as it is often “cringe worthy.”

“People go to a hotel and think it is fabulous when they have water with cucumbers or lemons,” she said. “You can do that at home, and once you drink more water you will feel so much better. We should be drinking six to eight 8-ounce glasses a day.”

When a patient comes in for help, Alleckson said, a biochemical individualized test can be done to determine if there is a vitamin deficiency. Anyone interested in finding out more about how diet and mental health are linked should ask their primary care provider for a referral.

MORE FROM NEWSMD
Town Hall on health care in rural Minnesota probes structural solutions for a looming crisis in outstate hospitals, one that could soon leave small towns struggling to provide the basics of care.
A dog's sense of smell has helped to find missing people, detect drugs at airports and find the tiniest morsel of food dropped from a toddler's highchair. A new study shows that dogs may also be able to sniff out when you're stressed out.
Do you get a little bit cranky after a sleepless night? In this "Health Fusion" column, Viv Williams explores how sleep deprivation can do a lot more damage than just messing with your mornings. It may also make people less willing to help each other.
The disease, which is more common in colder climates, causes some areas of your body, to feel numb and cold and you may notice color changes in your skin in response to cold or stress.

What to read next
Study found those who could not pass a simple test had twice the risk of mortality.
Columnist Carol Bradley Bursack responds to some of the things readers commonly ask about her writing and how she chooses topics.
The aftermath of reports of active shooters at several Minnesota schools has increased anxiety levels for some students and parents. Even though the situation was a hoax, people worry about the real thing. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams talks to the director of clinical services at Zumbro Valley Health Center about how parents can help their kids cope.
Interval training, or high intensity interval training (HIIT), is a way to pack the health benefits of exercise into a short amount of time. No matter what your fitness level. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams talks to a Mayo Clinic exercise expert about why intervals are so effective.