Ep 283: Soothe Anxiety with...Food?

Dr. Uma Naidoo, author of "This Is Your Brain on Food" and "Calm Your Brain with Food," discusses how dietary choices can significantly impact anxiety levels and overall mental wellness, highlighting the critical connections between gut health, inflammation, and the brain.

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Full Show Notes

Raising teenagers is no easy feat, especially when dealing with the complexities of their mental health. In today's fast-paced and stress-filled world, an increasing number of teens are facing anxiety. While therapy and coping strategies are essential tools, there's an often overlooked component that could be contributing significantly to your teenager's anxiety: their diet.

Our guest today is Dr. Uma Naidoo, a renowned psychiatrist, nutrition specialist, and author. Dr. Naidoo has made groundbreaking strides in the field of nutritional psychiatry, showcasing the profound effect food has on our mental state, specifically anxiety. Through her work, she uncovers the intricate connections between what we eat, the health of our gut, and how our brain functions.

Understanding the Gut-Brain Connection

Dr. Naidoo takes us through the fascinating gut-brain axis, explaining how these two seemingly disconnected body parts communicate through neurotransmitters and hormones. Foods with high glycemic loads, artificial sweeteners, and certain fats can cause inflammation not only in our bodies but also in our brains, exacerbating anxiety and other mental health issues.

Nourishment for Mental Health

Transitioning to healthier eating habits can seem daunting, but Dr. Naidoo provides practical advice and easy-to-follow steps for gradually making these changes. Focusing on whole, unprocessed foods rich in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium can have a positive impact on mental well-being. She also warns against the overconsumption of caffeine and the importance of avoiding foods that can interfere with medications prescribed for mental health conditions like ADHD.

Nutritional Psychiatry at Home

For parents, implementing Dr. Naidoo's advice means taking a more active role in food choices at home. She offers suggestions for incorporating more nutrient-dense foods into family meals and explains how simple swaps can lead to significant improvements in a teenager's mood and anxiety levels.

In this episode, we also cover additional topics, including:

- The effects of sugar and processed foods on mental health
- Simple dietary adjustments to combat stress and anxiety
- How certain foods can impact sleep quality
- The relationship between diet and cognitive functions

Dr. Naidoo's unique perspective on nutritional psychiatry provides a fresh outlook on managing anxiety through diet. It's a reminder that sometimes, the best medicine comes not from a prescription bottle, but from our own kitchens.

If you're intrigued by the powerful connection between what we eat and how we feel, make sure to subscribe to Talking to Teens and look into Dr. Naidoo's work for more insights into harnessing the power of food to foster better mental health in your family.

Listen to this enlightening conversation and start making those small, yet impactful changes in your and your teenager's diet today.

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Creators and Guests

Andy Earle
Andy Earle
Host of the Talking to Teens Podcast and founder of Write It Great
Dr. Uma Naidoo
Dr. Uma Naidoo
👩‍⚕️MD @harvardmed 🥦Mood Food MD 🧠Nutritional Psychiatry Pioneer 📗Author #CalmYourMindwithFood
Ep 283: Soothe Anxiety with...Food?
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