Foods that Can Improve Mental Health and Wellbeing
by Sofia Bingham | August 10, 2021
We all know that healthy eating habits can positively impact our physical health, but did you know the significant benefits that diet has on mental health? When you have good mental health, you’ll be more alert and be able to think clearly. In addition, you’ll have a greater attention span and make better decisions.
But what foods will improve your mental health?
Fish provides many benefits to your brain. The benefits can be traced to the fatty acid called DHA, which is known to enhance long and short-term memory. This contributes to optimal brain functioning as well as lower stress levels. Fatty fish also contain Omega-3 fatty acids shown to lower mental distress. Omega-3 plays a part in brain function as it is an important component of nerve cell membranes, effecting the release and uptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin and dopamine. For a healthy lifestyle your diet should ideally have a mix of prawns, trouts, tuna and salmon.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that has been associated with increased mental wellbeing. You can get this nutrient by eating plenty of lean protein foods, such as chicken and turkey. While some people think that amino acids can cause fatigue, the scientific standpoint is that tryptophan nudges the body to secrete more serotonin. Higher levels of serotonin increase your memory and help the body to alleviate stress.
Vegetables and Fruits
Another great source of complex carbohydrates is vegetables and fruits. The carbohydrates in these feel-good foods will slowly and steadily release enough energy to your brain. Consequently, you can expect your mood to improve when you add more vegetables and fruits to your diet.
It is common to find plenty of vitamins and antioxidants in vegetables and fruits. You need these nutrients to combat stress and maintain high mental function. Therefore, consuming more vegetables has been linked to a decrease in the risk of depression.
We recommend a range of vegetables and fruits including bananas, capsicums, apples, carrots, spinach, and kale. They work well as snacks on the go or in a sandwich, stew, soup, or salad.
Wild rice, oat, soy, and beans are classified as whole grains. These grains differ from others because they don’t increase the level of sugar in your brain. Instead, this is the food that makes you happy. Their complex carbohydrates slowly produce glucose to provide a gradual and steady supply of energy. This means that your brain will have enough energy to perform its functions and maintain optimal performance if you eat this good-mood food.
At the same time, many of these grains increase the brain’s ability to absorb tryptophan. The consumption of this happy food can ultimately alleviate depression and anxiety.
Chocolate has long been associated with positive moods, but does chocolate make you happy? Once you have ingested chocolate, the brain will start to secrete high amounts of serotonin. This is due to the increased presence of tryptophan. However, the increase is only apparent when you consume chocolate containing cocoa butter and cocoa solids.
Your brain may also start releasing more endorphins into the neural network. These hormones can create a greater level of wellbeing and lower stress.
Darker chocolate can also add polyphenols to your body. These nutrients can help to curb depression and make you feel more rejuvenated.
If you want to improve your mental health by changing your diet, you should increase your intake of fermented foods. In particular, your diet should have more kombucha, kimchi, and yoghurt. These foods can reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.
Fermented foods have bacteria that can make you feel happy. This happens because the bacteria create a conducive environment in your stomach to create the hormones that your body needs. A healthy stomach can help you have a healthier mind.
Mental health and wellbeing are as important as physical health. The best part is that you can achieve optimal brain performance by eating the right meals. At Stride, we provide comprehensive mental health services to everyone. Need help finding the right mental health services? Contact us today to get started.