he term good food might seem subjective to Ella as she loves a good slice of pizza accompanied by a cold bottle of soda, but Lizzy would prefer a plate of salad and water. What we consider good food might vary, but holistically, good food refers to anything we eat that helps improve both our physical and mental health. When we begin to view food as medicine with a propensity to heal the body and a mind booster that rejuvenates our brains, we realize how much we need a healthy meal plan.
Interestingly, there are foods that can improve your mental health, and meals that gradually deteriorate your health. It’s safe to say that most comfort foods, like fast foods and caffeine drinks, fall into the latter category. Honestly, we already know that “we are what we eat,” but the culinary fast lane that preaches convenience may not necessarily be the right path to tread.
Why do you need foods that can improve your mental health?
What if eating right is the missing piece in your mental health puzzle but you choose to run around in circles? While most processed foods help save kitchen time, they, however, contain sugar and refined carbohydrates that ultimately keeps you addicted and yearning for more. It’s no surprise Ken has become addicted to fast food and coffee — so much so that lack of these foods might influence his day-to-day output.
The only way to break loose from these dopamine-stimulating foods is a conscious commitment to eating healthier alternatives. Scrolling through the internet, I came across an unassuming comment, “what’s the essence of eating healthy and exercising? We’re all going to die anyway.” While this statement might seem true, the quality of life of a person conscious of what goes into them is always superior to another who nibbles on anything without forethought. From bone to mental health, healthy eating plays a major role in improving the quality of our mind and general wellbeing.
In addition, these processed foods have been directly linked to an increase in stress, depression, and anxiety. An ironic find, as these unhealthy foods disguise as the perfect friend during low moments. How low can they ultimately go? Isn’t it so much of a coincidence that while they might offer instant gratification, these foods only complicate issues in the long run?
Check out a few easy-to-find foods that can help improve your mental health…
#1. Omega-3 seafood
Adding foods rich in DHA like sardines, oysters, and mussels into your diet has been found to lower the possibilities of mood disorders. These fats are effective for brain and nerve development and could help reduce the risk of memory issues like dementia.
If awards go to “the highest nuts to go nuts for,” it’d be directed to walnuts. According to studies, individuals who eat walnuts show higher cognitive functions, better interest in activities, and better concentration than those who don’t consume walnuts. If you’re thinking of exploring foods that can improve your mental health, become a walnut pally.
#3. Whole grains
We’ve always been taught that white bread, white rice, and the likes aren’t the healthy foods around the block, but for some reason, our tastebuds can’t stay away. If you’re looking for better alternatives, think oatmeals, quinoa, and brown rice as they are great sources of fiber and they improve blood flow to the brain.
Probiotics boast immense digestive tract benefits. The “guts” have also been found to be directly linked to the brain via the enteric nervous system (ENS). This is why inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract may send signals to the central nervous system that influence mood changes. Consequently, eating natural low-fat yogurt has been said to soothe the guts and have a positive effect on the brain.
#5. Make room for mushrooms
While research has proven psychedelic mushrooms can serve as a treatment for mental disorders, regular mushrooms also have brain-enhancing properties. This link to the brain might be due to the ergothioneine (antioxidant) found in mushrooms.
A healthier midnight snack alternative, berries are high in antioxidants and effective for brain health. Blueberries are masters in combating oxidative stress and alleviating age-induced memory problems. Studies have shown that berries are foods that can improve your mental health.
#7. Leafy vegetables
The benefits of eating your greens can’t be overemphasized, yet we sleep on this truth. Vegetables like spinach are anti-inflammatory foods that help combat cancer, nutrient deficiencies, and all sorts of inflammation. Depression thrives on brain inflammation, so try to combat it by eating healthy vegetables.
Featured image: Ron Lach | Pexels
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