Nutritional Psychology: Best Foods for Mental Well-Being
When it comes to physical health, we all know that the food we eat influences our health directly. However, when it comes to mental health, a lot of people ignore what’s on their plate. This is a grave mistake because studies suggest that there is a link between our diet and mental illnesses. It also contributes to minimizing or increasing the severity of various symptoms. It follows logically that if diet contributes to these conditions, it can help treat them too.
Is Diet a Big Deal for Mental Health?
There are a number of studies showing how much diet and mental health are related. Some focus on food in general. There’s a lot of confusion about how some diets influence mental health while some don’t. However, specific researches on this matter show that it’s beyond just this. So, it’s not just about a comparison between a ‘healthy’ and an ‘unhealthy diet’ in general. Instead, specific nutrients are involved in the development of the brain and cognition. For example, research shows that patients suffering from depression tend to have lower folate levels than the general population. Several other studies suggest that older adults suffering from depression and other mental diseases generally have lower levels of vitamin B12 and folate.
Admittedly, this relationship is based on correlation. This means that although these nutrients don’t directly cause anything, there is still an undeniable link between them and the brain’s health. That link is due to the antioxidant properties of essential nutrients that fight against stress and free radicals in our bodies. Consequently, they affect how our brains release various chemicals that determine what emotion we’ll feel.
Is Diet Really a Cure-all?
Nutrients and supplements could be really helpful for some patients. However, depending on their situation, an important thing to keep in mind is that they are not a cure-all.
These supplements can help maintain brain health, and they can certainly reduce the chances of potential mental diseases. For example, a study shows that a diet consisting of vegetables, fish, and whole grains can reduce the risk of depression, and the use of CBD nugs relieve stress and elevate mood.
Superfoods for Your Brain
While the human brain may be the most complex organ of our body, science gives us a lot of information about it. Medical science confirms that what we chew and digest has a long-lasting effect on our mental health as it influences the brain’s activity. Let’s take a look at some superfoods that can make your brain stronger and boost your mental wellbeing.
Vegetables and Fruits Are Your Brain’s Best Friends
Veggies and fruits are the ultimate brain boosters for sharp memory and overall mental wellbeing. Spinach and leafy green vegetables contain huge amounts of magnesium, which helps to regulate the flow of blood to the brain. Once we grow into a certain age, our arteries start narrowing down. This reduces the supply of blood that is to go to our brain. Consequently resulting in memory loss and other mental problems. Having enough magnesium will dilate these vessels. Asparagus is another amazing veggie containing an adequate amount of folate, reducing the risk of depression.
Other sources of essential nutrients are oranges, blueberries, and bananas. Oranges contain vitamin C, a rare nutrient that our body can’t produce naturally. It helps to improve eyesight as well as the brain’s overall health. Blueberries work as a remedy to remove toxic chemicals from your brain. Studies suggest that they also help in fighting against memory loss and increase the brain’s capability.
Oils to Lubricate Your Brain
Doctors recommend omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to everyone, as these both have amazing preventative and medicinal qualities. They are the most abundant fats in our brains and are crucial in maintaining the brain’s cellular parts. Sometimes, doctors refer to them as the ideal ‘brain food’. Natural oils are rich in these essential fatty acids. Try using olive oil in your cooking as it helps to fight against inflammation and improves memory retention.
Studies suggest that these oils also minimize stress. Flaxseed oil also benefits the brain’s health as it’s a great source of vitamin E and protein fiber. CBD oil is linked with easing brain activity and reducing stress. It also helps to cope with depression as well. You can use CBD joints as an alternative to it if you’re habitual of smoking cigarettes. They help to clear out blockages and are proven to reduce anxiety and stress as they contain a balanced amount of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Fatty fish such as salmon and sardines contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. As you may know, 60% of our brain consists of fat, so your fat intake must be adequate for the brain’s proper functioning. Consider taking fish once a week. You can also add fish oil to your diet but eating fish is the best method to gain the maximum amount of nutrients. Wild salmon contains huge amounts of good fats, and studies suggest that it effectively reduces the risk of mental decline and improves memory.
Good old herbs are a natural source for boosting your brain’s health and fighting against inflammation. According to research, turmeric can slow down the breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. Turmeric also helps to cope with memory loss or cognitive impairment. A lot of people use turmeric in their daily diet along with coriander and cumin. Try adding a bit of black pepper to enhance the absorption of turmeric.
Another amazing herb that you can use to treat your anxiety of sleeplessness is lemon balm. You can use it in your tea, and it tastes awesome. Researches show that lemon balm can reduce the risk of dementia. It can significantly improve cognitive function after regular use.
Walnuts and Seeds
Walnuts are an elite class of brain food as they contain the highest amounts of omega-3’s. Studies suggest that walnuts effectively reduce the risk of shrinkage of the brain. You can eat them in the whole form without peeling the skin off. Experts say that this is the ideal way to take in walnuts. They are literally the fuel for the mind as they contain all the essential minerals that power it. A recent study suggests that people who eat nuts every day can improve memory even after the age of 55, and it improves cognitive function by 60%.
Everyone appreciates the taste of dark chocolate. Even though some dark chocolate versions are too sweet or too heavy to eat, it’s still undeniably healthy. Even the smell of chocolate and coffee could actually perk up your brain. However, it’s essential to remember that the excess of anything is bad. Especially when it comes to sweet. Remember that you want to stimulate the brain, not to adopt any other disease in the process. Just an ounce of it will be enough to elevate your mood and enhance your memory.
It has amazing antioxidant properties, and it helps regulate the blood flow. Studies suggest that habitual tea drinking may improve brain structure as well. Use fresh leaves to get the best result and stay healthy. You can add peppermint as well; it will not only boost your memory but also give you a feeling of alertness. Thus, improving your attention and processing time.