I’ve recently shared a blog post about the importance that grocery shopping plays in a healthy lifestyle. In fact everything starts at the supermarket, or even before when we set our mind to make good decisions. Making decisions is one of our constant activities and they can either lead to a life full of happiness and fulfillment or to a mindset in which we set ourselves for failure.
In line with this principle, I would like to raise your awareness for a very important – often undermined- topic related to our health and well-being.
Are you aware on how nutrition can affect mental health?
Nearly 50% of adults experience a mental illness at some point in their lives, and we commonly agree that we are what we eat, so if we perceive food as the fuel for our bodies, it is important to get the right nutrients in, ensuring proper function of brain neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain).
Food is what keeps us energized and fully nourished to go through different activities, days and as simple as keeping us alive. Nonetheless indulging in food, even healthy food, can affect our lives in many ways and normally has a very strong emotional component hidden behind. Ultimately mental illness affects health systems and healthcare costs dramatically especially if it relates with a high number of lost working days.
Food is highly linked to mental health and some foods have also proven to enhance the brain’s overall health and have a significant impact in our mood. When the body lacks certain essential nutrients then our brain will not have access to them or will not have enough quantity to produce neurotransmitters.
For example people with depression have less serotonin available which is key for mood regulation. Therefore it is fundamental to make sure we get an optimum intake of proteins, carbohydrates, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and omega 3 fatty acids on a daily basis.
Research also shows that people who follow a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, veggies, nuts and sea food appears to be less likely to suffer from depression.
So here are the top 5 foods to boost your mental health and overall well-being:
- Berries: Full of antioxidants and flavonoids that help preventing the effects of aging. Try incorporating a serve of these foods at least once a day. I always have some kind of berries for breakfast 🙂
- Nuts and seeds: Again either as a snack or a complement of a nourishing breakfast. Seeds are full of omega 3 fatty acids, folate, vit E and B6 which are known for making us think more clearly. Furthermore omega 3 and 6 fatty acids work as natural antidepressants.
- Green veggies: Spinach, cabbage, broccoli, etc, are full of vit B6, vit B12, folates, and complex carbohydrates boosting memory response and promoting an increase in serotonin levels.
- Fish: It’s great for overall well-being as it is rich in omega 3 fatty acid. By simply eating fish once a week we are decreasing the chances of getting Alzheimer as this fatty acid will code neurons. Salmon and tuna are great examples of fish that we should be eating as they are also rich in protein which increases energy and alertness.
- Dark Chocolate or cocoa, studies found out that cocoa has even more antioxidants than green tea and the another positive aspect relate to the flavonoids in cocoa as they increase blood flood in the brain.