Ongoing stress is a factor in many people’s lives today. There is a lot going on in the world from war to famine, social media concerns to issues around health and wellness.
People who struggle with mental health the most are vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies as well. This includes first responders.
EMS culture is one that works off high octane, stressful environments. This means they are not getting enough sleep, working long shifts, and experiencing job stress unlike anyone else.
Nutritional psychology is one way people are looking at to help first responders receive support for mental health.
Health and Bacteria
Bacteria live in the stomach. When people ingest foods that promote bacterial growth, this can cause problems.
This means the body needs a delicate balance of microbes and healthy bacteria, along with unhealthy bacteria to thrive. There is now a belief that gut bacteria, or microbes, can be the key to some mental health issues that are important for people to function.
Feeling happy or healthy, not experiencing anxiety or depression, and having elevated moods may be related to the gut as well as the experiences a person has. Nutritional psychology reviews a person’s diet and looks at the ways this might impact how they feel on a daily basis.
This does not apply to TBI or PTSD, but more depressive and anxiety disorders.
Why Healthy Foods Matter
Gut health is an important factor in how people feel, but now there may be a good reason to believe it can help people with psychiatric disorders. Trillions of bacteria live in the gut.
The gut-brain connection and psychiatric disorders like depression, bipolar, and schizophrenic disorders are being reviewed to see if probiotics, dietary changes, and other shifts can help improve mood or anxiety disorders. The potential to treat mental illness with microbiome-based therapies is crucial.
It is imperative to keep working with people who have a mental illness so they understand how their healthy lifestyle and wellness impacts their overall health on the job and at home. For EMS workers, the reality is they can do more to control their nutritional input than they think.
Why it Matters
It is hard to ask for help. EMS workers are no exception. They struggle each day to do the right thing, make good decisions, and make last-minute choices that will have a lasting impact on people’s lives.
They put their lives on the line to help others. There is no way to control everything they experience, but this gut biome connection to the brain can be helpful for so many people who struggle with issues.
When first responders are not getting enough nutritional value, they are more at risk of developing depression. The mood can be determined by what a person eats, including too much sugar or too many carbs.
Fast food and bad food are not good for someone with a high-stress job, however, it seems that it is the norm. It is hard to eat healthy while working in these jobs. To be healthier, it means changing lots of ways a person looks at food and thinks about it.
Due to levels of depression in the wider community of EMS workers, it is a good idea to look at food prep ideas and concepts to see what can be changed to help the cause for better mental health in all people in this field and beyond.
Starting Healthy Habits
Healthy eating is not going to help people cure their depression or mental health symptoms. More research is needed, but high-risk people like first responders need to look more closely at eating healthy while at work and at home.
Exercise is one way to be healthier but without good eating habits, it can negatively impact mental health. The best way to start is small steps.
If ordering in fast food restaurants, order salads or wraps instead of burgers and fries. Stay away from fried foods and foods that might cause problems digestive wise.
Reduce inflammatory foods that cause oxidative stress responses. These foods might be too much bread, pasta, and red meats.
Eat, instead, more greens, microgreens, veggies, fruits, and other proteins to support a healthier digestive system. This will help start the process of making a healthier gut microbiome environment for the body.
EMS workers have crazy shifts and are not always able to eat healthy on the go. One of the realities of this line of work is not being able to cook healthy foods on a normal schedule.
What people can do is focus on, instead, the way they prepare food and make it so they can take it to work. Have salads ready, make wraps, and have tuna and crackers for snacks.
Pack protein bars, nutritional bars and have bottles ready with water to go. Spend time looking at ways other EMS workers promote healthier lifestyles and see how they manage it.
They may be able to provide some tips on cooking and eating healthy on the job. Overall, the responsibility for healthy eating is on the person.
However, the company of EMS workers can band together and cook foods, make meals, and share food that will be healthy for everyone involved. The goal should be to deal with the reality of the situation they face and find hope and healing in the food they eat every day to help bring their mood into a better balance for a healthier mind overall.
For more difficult to manage conditions, they should seek psychological treatment and addiction support if needed. Nutritional support is only as good as a supplemental health initiative when someone needs deeper work and healing.
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