GOOD NUTRITION FEEDS THE SOUL
At Northwest Passage, we have transitioned from an “institutional” diet to a holistic approach to nutrition – one that does not focus on only a few particular components but instead is informed by knowledge of the composition of healthy human diets from a longer historical perspective. We remain open to the idea that certain individuals may benefit from specific nutritional components, but as a general approach to nutrition, we believe that we should eat what our bodies evolved to eat. We avoid fad diets and supplements and note that a diet that is focused on weight loss is not necessarily good for the brain. We strive for meals that consist of whole foods that are unprocessed and unrefined. As simply stated by Michael Pollan in Food Rules: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”
Diet and Mental Health
Nutrition and Mental Health
Surprisingly Dramatic Role of Nutrition
“THE FUEL WE CHOOSE FOR OUR BODIES HAS A DIRECT IMPACT ON OUR EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING IN ADDITION TO OUR PHYSICAL WELL-BEING.”
FAMILY NUTRITION RESOURCES
We help individuals and families make the healthy choice the easy choice. Learn more!
BRAIN FOODS: THE EFFECTS OF NUTRIENTS ON BRAIN FUNCTION
- Diets that are high in saturated fat are becoming notorious for reducing molecular substrates that support cognitive processing and increasing the risk of neurological dysfunction in both humans and animals.
- As predicted from an evolutionary perspective, the gut does influence the molecular mechanisms that determine the capacity for acquiring new memories and that control emotions, as well as overall mental function.
- The results of a recent randomized clinical trial indicated that a 3-year folic acid supplementation can help to reduce the age-related decline in cognitive function.
- There is the exciting possibility that dietary manipulations are a viable strategy for enhancing cognitive abilities and protecting the brain from damage, promoting repair and counteracting the effects of aging.
- The capacity of diet to modulate cognitive abilities might have even longer-term implications in light of recent studies that imply that nutritional effects might be transmitted over generations by influencing epigenetic events.
CHOOSE FOOD OVER FOOD-LIKE SUBSTANCES
- The American paradox is we are a people who worry unreasonably about dietary health yet have the worst diet in the world.
- Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.
- Key Rules:
- Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
- Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
- Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.
- Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot (honey is the exception).
- Families traditionally ate together, around a table and not a TV, at regular meal times.
- Don’t buy food where you buy your gasoline.
- It’s not just what you eat, but how you eat it.
EAT WELL GAME PLAN
DEPRESSION, DIET AND EXERCISE
- Although not classified as a non-communicable disease, depression now imposes the largest burden of illness and middle- and high- income countries.
- Adults followed over 5 years had a reduced risk of developing depression if they scored higher on a “whole food” dietary pattern, and an increased risk if they scored higher on a “processed food” dietary pattern.
- A 2010 Australian study found that a dietary pattern of vegetable, fruit, beef, lamb, fish and wholegrain foods was associated with a reduced likelihood of major depressive disorder, dysthymia and anxiety disorders.
- Recommendations and encouragement to follow national guidelines for dietary and exercise practices should be a part of care for all people with depression.
A PROSPECTIVE STUDY OF DIET QUALITY AND MENTAL HEALTH IN ADOLESCENTS
- Improvements in diet quality were mirrored by improvements in mental health, while reductions in diet quality were associated with declining psychological functioning over the follow up period.
- Another study by Oddy et al. identified relationships between measures of diet quality and behavioral problems in adolescents that were independent of family structure and functioning.
- The intake of core nutrient-dense food groups, fruits and vegetables, yielded almost identical results when compiled as a composite variable in sensitivity analyses, lending weight to the veracity of our measure of healthy diets.
- Population surveys demonstrate a substantial increase in overweight and obesity among children and adolescents over recent decades. Obesity does not necessarily indicate nutritional repletion, as high-energy foods typically have poor nutrient value.
- Intervention studies are now urgently required to test the effectiveness of preventing the common mental disorders through dietary modification.
IT’S ALL CONNECTED… The individual elements of the PassageWay are deeply ingrained with one another. Here are some amazing stories that correspond with nutrition, exercise, mental well-being, innovation and personal growth:
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) ensures that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. Follow this link to find a Summer Food Service Program in your community: https://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks