What we choose to put in our bodies can directly affect our mental health. Studies have shown that certain vitamins and minerals in the foods we eat have the ability to improve our mental health and ease symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. It is important to eat healthy foods for both our physical and mental health. Here are the top 6 superfoods you should incorporate into your diet.
Cacao has been around for a long time and it has huge health benefits. It is packed with nutrients and natural compounds that help improve your mood, increase memory and overall brain function. It also contains magnesium which reduces cortisol resulting in lower stress levels. Dark chocolate has a higher percentage of cocoa than milk chocolate, making it purer. For cocoa in its purest form, choose ceremonial grade cacao. Next time you’re craving something sweet, grab some dark chocolate to reap the benefits.
Leafy green vegetables
Green vegetables are high in folic acid. Lack of folic acid and other B vitamins has been linked to insomnia, depression, and fatigue. Getting enough green vegetables in your diet will help fight depression and other mental health conditions. Here are some green superfoods to add to your diet regularly for optimal mental health: spinach, kale, collard greens, romaine.
Studies have shown that high inflammation in the body is linked to many mental health conditions. Curcumin is a natural compound in turmeric that can reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms of stress and depression. Turmeric is a spice commonly found in Indian food that can be easily incorporated into your diet. Add it to eggs, stews or enjoy a golden latte to get your turmeric flavor out.
Berries are packed with antioxidants and have a lot of benefits for our body and brain. Antioxidants are great for fighting free radicals, reducing inflammation, and repairing damaged cells. Studies show a link between mental health problems and free radicals. The antioxidants in berries have been found to ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Berries make the perfect superfood snack. Try these berries for the highest antioxidants: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries.
Fatty or oily fish containing Omega-3 fatty acids improves memory and reduces anxiety. Omega-3 acids are extremely effective for the body in many ways, and they are essential for brain function. They are known to reduce symptoms of depression and other mood disorders. Here are some of the best fish high in Omega-3s: salmon, sardines, mackerel, Albacore tuna.
For vegetarians or vegans, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts are great sources of omega-3s to boost your brain health.
Research shows that our gut health is directly related to our mental health. Prebiotics and probiotics in fermented foods promote a healthy gut. Fermented foods have been found to affect the same parts of the brain as some antidepressants. Adding more fermented foods to your diet can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Here are the fermented superfoods to eat for a healthier gut and mind: yogurt, kimchee, sauerkraut, kombucha.
Foods to avoid
Just as many foods can positively affect our physical and mental health, there are foods that can negatively affect us. Studies show that a Western diet high in sugar and processed foods is linked to more depressive symptoms. Eating these foods can lead to fatigue and worsen depression symptoms. For best mental health, it’s important to avoid the following foods: Processed foods, sugar, alcohol, saturated fats.
If you want to prioritize your mental health, practice eating whole foods and include superfoods in your diet to get the vitamins and minerals you need. If you are experiencing anxiety, depression or any kind of emotion, you should talk to a therapist. In therapy, you can get support and learn strategies to deal with problems you may have and become the best version of yourself. Talk to someone today.