Do you feel better after eating certain foods? There is a growing awareness that our food can significantly impact our mental health. Research show that certain nutrients and dietary patterns can affect brain function and influence mood.
For instance, consuming foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish and flaxseeds, has been associated with lower rates of depression and improved cognitive function. Additionally, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins has been linked to a lower risk of depression and anxiety.
On the other hand, consuming a diet high in processed foods, sugar, and saturated fats may increase inflammation in the body, which can negatively impact brain function and increase the risk of depression and other mood disorders. Eating a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can cause blood sugar levels to spike and crash, leading to fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.
As well, skipping meals or long periods without eating can cause low blood sugar levels, leading to irritability, mood swings, and fatigue. Nutrient-rich food is essential for a healthy body and mind because it contains minerals supporting brain functions and mental health.
A lack of certain nutrients in the diet can contribute to mental health problems. Research suggests deficiencies in B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D can all affect mood and brain function.
The health of the gut microbiome also affects mental health. A healthy gut is essential for producing neurotransmitters like serotonin, which plays a role in regulating mood. Eating a diet rich in fibre and fermented foods can help support a healthy gut.
Here are the top ten foods to improve your mental health.
1. Fatty fish. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines can help support brain function and improve mood.
2. Nuts and seeds: High in healthy fats, protein, and fibre, nuts, and seeds like almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds can help reduce inflammation in the brain and improve overall mental health.
3. Leafy greens: Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and broccoli are rich in vitamins and minerals that help support brain function and reduce inflammation.
4. Whole grains: Complex carbohydrates found in whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and oatmeal can help boost serotonin levels in the brain, which can improve mood and reduce anxiety.
5. Berries: Like blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are high in antioxidants and flavonoids that help reduce inflammation and improve cognitive function.
6. Fermented foods: Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut contain probiotics that can improve gut health, linked to better mental health.
7. Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that can improve blood flow to the brain and boost mood.
8. Turmeric: Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound that reduces brain inflammation and improves mood.
9. Avocado: Avocados are high in healthy fats that can help support brain function and improve overall mental health.
10. Eggs: Eggs are a good source of protein and contain choline, a the nutrient that can help improve memory and cognitive function.
A balanced diet of nutrients, fibre, and whole foods supports physical and psychological well-being; every bite of food is a conscious decision you can make to improve your mental health.
Adele Muller is a trained nutritionist an counsellor, and the founder of Nuova Vita Health. Find out more: https://www.nuovavitahealth.com