Guest Blog Post by Evie Coles
Which food items will quickly improve mental health? Good food and healthy eating habits have a profound impact on the brain. This has given rise to a new concept in psychiatry known as “nutritional psychiatry”. Today, psychiatrists believe that following a good diet has a positive bearing on the
- Mental health of the person concerned and
- Also decreases the risk of mental disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.
The fact that omega 3 fatty acids help bring about a balance in the mood of an individual has been known to us for some time. Today, doctors openly state that while a healthy diet has many protective qualities, an unhealthy diet is a sure ticket to anxiety, often culminating into depression.
Dietary impact on the brain
Even though we are still in the process of learning more about this concept, it has been proven that there are basically three ways in which what you eat impacts your brain. They are:
- Real food enhances brain development by enabling the development of brain tissue. Neurotransmitters thus work better in the transference of signals and information between the different parts of the brain and the body.
- Real food contains nutrients like omega 3 fatty acids, zinc etc., which bring about positive changes in a brain protein. This, in turn, helps to bring about an increase in the intracellular connections of the brain.
- Healthy food enables healthy bacteria to grow well in the stomach. These bacteria trigger brain development by fending off infection-causing germs, keeping a check on our immune system and helping to contain inflammation which, if unchecked, can give rise to mood swings and cognition problems.
Eating a balanced diet
Healthy food refers to taking in a balanced diet. This diet includes all the necessary nutrients in the correct proportions. In general, a balanced diet as recommended by professional nutritionists, dieticians and medical practitioners includes:
- A foundation of starchy food such as cereals, pasta, potatoes, rice, bread and couscous
- At least five portions of fruits and vegetables each day
- Poultry, eggs, nuts, fish and pulses as good protein sources
- Milk and other dairy products as a source of protein and calcium
- Two portions of fish each week
- Avoidance of saturated fats and refined sugars
- Reduced salt intake, restricted to about 6g per day for both adults and children over the age of eleven
Some fluids that need to be avoided are alcohol, juices, sweetened fizzy drinks and smoothies as they have a very high calorie content. Fluid requirements of the body should be satisfied with low calorie drinks such as water, skimmed milk (in moderation), tea without sugar, diet soft drinks etc. Since it has been seen that people suffering from anxiety commonly feel thirsty, taking in the required fluids is essential for all of us who want to retain good mental health.
Vital mind boosting nutrients
Development and maintenance of good mental health is primarily associated with the intake of three major nutrients.
- Folates or folic acids or Vitamin B9. Intake of folate has seen to reduce the risk of depression and anxiety setting in. Spinach, kale, fruits, beans, nuts and whole grains are very rich in folic acid.
- Vitamin D. People with Vitamin D deficiency are more prone to depression and other mental ailments like Seasonal Affective Disorder than those who do not have this deficiency. Vitamin D can be obtained naturally from the sun. A few foods such as salmon, tuna milk, cereals, orange juice etc., are also rich in Vitamin D.
- Omega 3 fatty acids. These help to stabilize mood swings and prevent depression from setting in. They also help to increase the effectiveness of conventional antidepressants and people with ADHD greatly benefit from their intake. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in oily fish such as salmon, sardines, anchovies etc., and also in green leafy vegetables, fresh basil, flaxseeds, walnuts and olive oil.
Some important points to consider are:
- Never skip breakfast because you will feel fatigued throughout the whole day
- Avoid eating food with little or no nutritional value such as highly processed products that are high in fats and refined sugars.
Other important foods you can incorporate to bring about a quick improvement in your mental capabilities include:
- Fermented foods such as yoghurt, kimchi, kefir, and pickled vegetables etc., which contain probiotics and should be eaten every day.
- Leafy greens such as spinach, turnip, mustard greens, romaine, and broccoli which are very high in folic acid. Others, like chicken, walnut, onion seafood, Brazil nuts etc., are rich in selenium and should be consumed on a regular basis to avoid depression, fatigue (both mental and physical) and anxiety.
- Lean proteins, whole grains and fatty fish. These are very important sources of nutrients and should be incorporated in meals.
A man is defined by what he eats. Also, it is the choices that you make today which have a bearing on your well being tomorrow. Make the right choices today and benefit into the future with a healthy body and mind.
About the Author
Evie Coles is a professional writer and blogger. She writes on different health blogs and websites regularly. She also associates with the health website PhentermineClinics.com that helping people losing weight. Find her on Facebook, Twitter and Google+