Why is Nutrition important for maternal mental health?
During pregnancy, it is crucial to prioritize good nutrition to support your health and the development of your baby. Eating well helps your body cope with the increased demands as your pregnancy progresses and ensures a balance between providing enough nutrients for your baby's growth while maintaining a healthy weight.
Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function, and understanding some basic neurophysiology can help us appreciate its significance. Two essential functions for proper brain and nervous system function are:
Synthesis of neurotransmitters: Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that transmit nerve signals between cells. Among them, a group called 'monoamine neurotransmitters' plays a crucial role in mood and well-being. Serotonin, Noradrenaline, and Dopamine are three key neurotransmitters in this group. Deficiencies or inadequate functioning of these neurotransmitters are associated with mood disorders like depression. Serotonin is also important for memory, sleep, mood regulation, and various cognitive functions.
Proper function of cell membranes: Cell membranes act as gatekeepers, maintaining a balance of chemical signals entering the cells. If the cell membranes don't function optimally, nerve cells can become excessively permeable to external chemicals. This heightened excitability can lead to mental health conditions and neurological disorders.
By providing essential nutrients through a well-balanced diet during pregnancy, you support the synthesis of neurotransmitters critical for mood, cognition, and overall well-being. Additionally, proper nutrition helps maintain the integrity of cell membranes, ensuring optimal brain function and reducing the risk of mental health and neurological issues.