With so much vying for your time and attention during the day, it is no wonder you often don't eat and when you do it's usually something quick lacking nutritional value. Often small business owners fuel themselves on coffee as they run from meeting to meeting, putting out fires and tackling the many issues that come with being an executive. All this can cause the gas gauge to plummet and for entrepreneurs to run out of fuel mentally. The result can take the form of feelings of depression, anxiety, or any form of a mental health challenge that may come and go over time.

I take a little blue pill that costs a little over $1,000 a month. But, I also find that eating properly helps to regulate my mood and gives me the energy that I need to run my small business. Pharmaceutical companies can't profit from pushing more leafy green vegetables in your diet and, the fast food chains will not turn a profit promoting a plant based diet, and much is to be gained from a person seeing a general practitioner for symptoms such as racing heart, headaches, etc. brought on from a mental health challenge.

Sometimes a little change in your diet can cause a vast improvement; however, it takes time to see the results, and as entrepreneurs we often want immediate results. I am not knocking prescription drugs, but I am advocating that you change your diet to change your mind, too. According to the Mental Health Foundation, a balanced mood and feelings of well-being can be protected by ensuring that our diet provides adequate amounts of complex carbohydrates, essential fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, and water, which often aren't found in a value meal.

According to www.Familydoctor.org. medical researchers are studying the effects of dietary choices on mood and mental health. This is sometimes called the "food-mood connection." Limited evidence does suggest that certain nutrients may support emotional well-being. The site goes on to say that proper nutrition is likely to keep you feeling better physically and emotionally:

  1. Omega-3 fatty acids improve heart health by reducing "bad" cholesterol in your body and increasing "good" cholesterol. Omega-3 has also shown promise for improving mental health. In some studies, people who took omega-3 supplements reported improvements in their mood. Researchers think that omega-3 fatty acids may affect the way your brain sends signals throughout your body. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in seafood, such as salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel. They can also be found in flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, and walnuts.
  2. Tryptophan is an amino acid (a building block of protein) that your body needs so it can produce a chemical called serotonin. People who have depression often have a low serotonin level. Studies have examined the use of tryptophan to treat depression, but there is not enough scientific evidence to recommend this use. Tryptophan can be found in red meat, dairy products, soy, and turkey.
  3. Magnesium is a nutrient that helps your body produce energy. It also helps your muscles, arteries and heart work properly. Some researchers are studying whether patients who take extra magnesium recover more quickly from depression. Magnesium can be found in foods such as leafy green vegetables, nuts and avocados.
  4. Folic acid and vitamin B-12 are B vitamins that play an important role in metabolism (the pace of your body's processes) and production of blood cells. They also are related to chemicals called dopamine and noradrenalin. In many cases, people who are depressed don't have enough of these chemicals. Increasing a person's levels of folic acid and vitamin B-12 may increase his or her response to medicines that treat depression. Folic acid is found in foods such as leafy greens and fruits. Vitamin B-12 is mainly found in fish, shellfish, meat and dairy products.

Because so many questions remain, dietary changes are not recommended as a substitute for professional treatment of mental health problems like depression. However, I hope that this article gives you pause the next time you skip a meal or zip through the drive-through and feel drained and in need of something to pick you up.

 

Published on: May 26, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.