We know about the kind of foods we should eat for our heart, skin, blood, and various other body parts but what about our mental health? Establishing a healthy relationship between mental health and nutrition is very important. Maintaining mental health is important concerning anxiety and depression. These nutrients include minerals, amino acids, vitamins, and Omega 3 fatty acids.
When we eat healthy food, the body gets the combinations of nutrients it requires for the brain. The brain uses these nutrients to stabilize our moods. You should avoid having junk foods and eat food that grows from the ground, on the trees, bushes, and vines. Meat and poultry should be organic and grass-fed. Fruits, nuts, and vegetables should be consumed in their raw form wherever possible.
Here are some of the nutrient’s dense foods for the best mental health:
1 Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. They are rich in calcium, potassium, and magnesium. One should have a daily amount of Omega 3 about 1000-3000 mg.
Salmon is rich in Vitamin D, Potassium, and Proteins. It is high in Vitamin B12. It provides tryptophan which gets converted into serotonin, an important mood regulator in the brain. It has a ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 of about 1:23.
Broccoli is high in folate, potassium, and vitamin C. It has a lot of fiber which acts as a probiotic. Probiotics create a friendly environment for the probiotic bacteria to flourish in the gut.
Spinach is a dark green leafy vegetable rich in magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, and folate. It has a ratio Omega 3 to Omega 6 of about 5:1. Other green leafy vegetables like beet greens, kale, and chard are also rich in these nutrients. You can incorporate these vegetables in various salads, smoothies, and soups. These can be cooked, boiled, or steamed.
A liver can be either people’s favourite or people dislike it to the core. All animal liver is high in nutrients important for mental health as they are an excellent source of niacin, selenium, iron, zinc, B6, protein, and folate. Since B12 is stored in our livers, so eating a small amount of liver twice a month ensures adequate reserves of B12. Having organic liver from grass-fed animals is recommended.
Eggs are a good source of Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D. If they come from pasture-raised chickens, then they are high in protein and are a good source of Omega 3 fatty acid. All these nutrients are essential for mental health. Other sources of Vitamin D are mushrooms, fatty fish, and many more.
Yogurt is an excellent source of calcium, potassium, and B vitamins, including B12. It is a fermented food with billions of probiotic bacteria. The probiotic bacteria helps in breaking down the food for better absorption and improving digestion and consumption of nutrients by the body. Good gut health and good bacteria are related to each other; hence, you should switch to different brands of yogurt to get a variety of bacteria. Greek yogurt is a good substitute or sour cream as they have high protein content with thick consistency. You can add yogurt to smoothies, salad dressings, cereals, and many more.
Oysters are an excellent source of zinc as compared to other foods. Zinc is an important nutrient for mental health. They are also good sources of Vitamin B12, magnesium, and calcium.
9 Brazil Nuts
Brazil Nuts are considered as the King of Nuts when it comes to mental health nutrients. They are a source of magnesium, tryptophan, and Vitamin E. The difference between other nuts and Brazil Nuts is concerning selenium content. Consumption of one brazil nut fulfils 125% of the daily requirement of selenium.
Berries like blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and strawberries have powerful antioxidants and are rich in Vitamin C. They are a good source of potassium, fiber, and digestive enzymes. Berries can be consumed raw or cooked, added to cereals, yogurts or smoothies.
11 Whole Grains
Glucose is the primary source of energy for the brain which comes from carbohydrates. Having simple carbohydrates creates spikes in blood sugar levels and has similar effects on the brain just as drugs abuse. Meanwhile, complex carbohydrates release glucose slowly and help us feel fuller longer. Sources of carbohydrates are whole wheat products, oats, barley, soy, and rice.
12 Lean Protein
After carbohydrates, protein is the most abundant substance in our body. They contain tryptophan; an amino acid which is also known as the “building block” of protein. It influences our mood by producing serotonin, a neurotransmitter. Sources of Lean Protein like turkey, chicken, fish, beans, and eggs keep the levels of serotonin balanced. This reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety and helps in the overall cognitive functioning.
13 Green Leafy Vegetables
Broccoli and other green vegetables like spinach, turnip, romaine, and mustard greens are high in folic acid. Deficiency of folate and various B Vitamins leads to fatigue, insomnia, and depression. Broccoli contains selenium which helps in the proper functioning of the immune system, thyroid hormone metabolism, and reproduction. According to studies, low levels of selenium leads to fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Sources of selenium include chicken, whole grains, and fatigue.
Walnuts look like a brain and help to keep our brain healthy for the long-term. They are full of antioxidants which inhibit oxidation to the body and brain. Walnuts help in the growth of new neurons, brain cells.
You should consume beans daily for a happy and healthy brain. It is an excellent source of fiber and antioxidants. Beans and legumes like kidney beans, chickpeas, and lentils keep the levels of blood sugar stable, keep you fuller for longer, and enables you to burn more energy which is good for mental health. Beans contain thiamine, a vitamin required for the production of acetylcholine which is a neurotransmitter essential for memory.
Lentils are rich in Vitamin B folate which helps in the production of serotonin. It is a brain neurotransmitter which is also known as the happy hormone. They help to regulate blood sugar levels as they are low on the glycemic index which causes the blood sugar to rise at a gradual rate. It keeps the energy level consistent throughout the day.
Bananas are mood-enhancing food items which affect tryptophan, an amino acid which produces serotonin. Serotonin helps with the sleep and regulates our food intake which in turn impacts mood. They are an excellent source of Vitamin B6, fiber, and potassium which supports our body to utilize tryptophan.
Kefir is a beverage high in probiotics which should be consumed daily. It is described as a thinner version of yogurt with a thinner consistency. It affects the health of the gut linked to mental health. It can reduce the symptoms of depression.
19 Sweet Potato
Sweet Potatoes are rich in beta-carotene which is an antioxidant. It helps in reducing the damage to brain cells which have a negative impact on our mental health. It also helps in reducing the oxidative stress on DNA, linked with anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia.
Turmeric is an essential spice used in an Asian household. It has a compound called curcumin which helps in easing depression, improving memory, and facilitates the growth of new brain cells.