Your mental health is very important, so if you can do one of the best and most enjoyable things in the world (eating) to not only help your brain function at its best level but also improve your mood, then you are going to love what we are talking about today.
A healthy diet is essential for a healthy body and mind, there is a lower risk of you getting specific diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and so on, plus, it can help support your physical health by reducing the possibility of weight gain and make you feel happier.
If you are someone who deals with mental health problems such as depression and anxiety as well as low mood, then the food you consume, as well as a strong exercise routine, may be able to help you combat these issues as well as help you develop healthy eating habits.
What is The Link Between Food and Mood?
Have you heard of the term “second brain”?
This comes from the close relationship between your gastrointestinal tract and brain function which affects diet and emotion.
What is in The Digestive Tract?
Your digestive tract has billions of gut bacteria inside it which will influence the production of chemicals that carry messages from the gut to the brain, for example, dopamine and serotonin.
If you focus on eating nutrient-rich foods then you are promoting the growth of the good bacteria in your body which has a positive impact on these chemicals, leading you to feel happier and helping your mental health be better.
However, if you are filling your body with processed foods such as high-fat burgers, chips, and sugary foods like sweets and chocolate, then this will cause your mental health to dip and may make you feel very moody.
Sugar is a Major Culprit
Sugar is one of the worst things that people can consume as it causes inflammation in the gut feeding into the bad bacteria, you may feel a high from it with a rush of dopamine, but as everyone knows, sugar can crash you back down, causing a huge dip in mood and make you feel sluggish.
Why Eat Nutrient Rich Foods?
When you stick to foods like fresh fruits, leafy green vegetables, fatty fish, and whole grains, you can the recommended nutrients you need to keep your body functioning.
Healthy fats such as Omega 3 fatty acids can help with brain development, and vitamins such as vitamin D, as well as A, K, E, C, and B vitamins will keep the body functioning to its optimum level in the right doses.
What Are Some of The Best Foods For Mental Health?
Now you are aware of how important it is to eat healthy foods to not only support your digestive health but your brain health as well, we will go into what kinds of foods would be a good choice to lift your mood.
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale are linked to people experiencing a better mood as they have a lot of vitamins and nutrients called polyphenols.
They are a wonderful source of folic acid which has been known to counter fatigue and depression.
You may also find that you sleep a lot better when having these vegetables as they can combat insomnia.
Plant foods have a lot of benefits for the body and mind, so it is worth bulking out your meals and snacks with plant-based foods to get the full effect.
You may feel very happy that dark chocolate is on the list, especially as normal chocolate is high in sugar and is definitely on the no list.
The darker the chocolate the better it is for you, so try and aim for around 85% cocoa solids when you want to pick up a bar.
There are high levels of flavonoids in dark chocolate which is a type of antioxidant that can boost attention, memory, mood, and reduce cognitive decline.
Whilst this is very beneficial, you should still keep it to a couple of squares per day as it does have a high-fat content, so be mindful of how much you are eating.
Beans, soy, oats, and wild rice fall under this category.
Whole grains consist of complex carbohydrates which are a lot better than simple carbohydrates which are what many of us eat but are not aware of.
Carbohydrates keep us moving, and paired with protein and healthy fats it can help us feel fuller for longer without crashing us down.
Whole grains will also help the brain absorb tryptophan which helps fight depression and anxiety at the same time as boosting brain function.
Fish is always a healthy choice, but when it comes to foods such as salmon and wild cod, there is a high amount of Omega 3 fatty acids present, which could help combat depression.
Fatty fish and anything that has healthy fat has been known to help with learning and memory as well, so if you are a vegetarian/vegan and you cannot eat fish, you can get Omega 3 fatty acids in supplement form to make sure that you are still getting the benefits.
Salmon and Cod also have high amounts of vitamin D, giving that extra help in fighting off depression and depression symptoms.
Once again, nuts are a perfect source of Omega 3 fatty acids, and you may want to start eating cashews as they are full of magnesium which can provide oxygen to the brain.
Almonds are another important nut to eat as they have a compound called phenylalanine in them, assisting your body in producing dopamine, and this compound has also been known to reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.
Love them or hate them, tomatoes are something you need to put on your grocery list as they can help support your mental health as well as your body.
This vegetable (or fruit!) has been known to help fight brain disease and delay the onset as well as the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Just like with almonds, you should start eating them right away so you can reap the benefits later on down the line.
Yogurt is filled with probiotics which will boost digestive health and help reduce stress and anxiety.
You can also get a healthy dose of potassium and magnesium with yogurt helping your brain function.
However, don’t just assume every yogurt is good for you, as the ones that have added sugars or are filled with artificial fruit won’t be helping you at all because you will just be consuming pure sugar.
It is best to go for the plain versions and check out natural probiotic yogurts as these will be the best option which you can mix with fresh fruit if you need a bit more taste and sweetness to it.
After reading through this article, you should be a lot more aware of what foods would be a good option for you to eat for your mental health, as well as how your body can reap the benefits as well.
It is not easy to change your diet completely, especially if you have always eaten a certain way, but, if you commit to it you will feel the benefits of eating healthier and you won’t have to worry about the adverse effects of processed foods.
Speak to your doctor to help get the ball rolling and they may refer you to a dietitian that can put you on a food plan which can reduce bad fats and sugars in your diet.
Taking the first step is easy, it is the step after that, that will be the toughest, so keep at it.