Mental health has taken a spotlight in recent years and no longer are mental health issues regarded as something to hide, disguise or struggle with alone. With this openness around mental wellbeing, we are only recently discovering just how widespread mental health issues are. Rising numbers of stress anxiety and depression are indeed the most common culprits in this case. Unfortunately, many mental health issues are commonly treated with medication, which can usually mask or treat the symptoms, but may not get to the root cause at play.
In this blog we will discuss 7 foods that not only support the brain but also can address and support specific issues like sleep, anxiety, mood and memory issues.
Beans are also one of the top food choices for a happy, healthy brain and perfect for those following a plant-based diet. Beans and legumes such as chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans are full of fibre and antioxidants. They also keep your blood sugar stable and enable you to burn more energy. Beans also contain thiamine, a vitamin needed for the production of acetylcholine which is the neurotransmitter essential for memory.
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are the perfect snack to get your daily dose of antioxidants. Antioxidants assist in repairing cells, as well as help to combat inflammation caused by free radical damage. Free radicals are often found in pollutants, cigarette smoke and other chemicals. By reducing the damages caused by free radicals, antioxidants can also assist in improving brain health and the symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. As an added bonus, berries also contain a compound called polyphenols which have been found to improve memory, concentration and attention span.
- Fermented Foods
Fermented foods include natural unsweetened yoghurts, kimchi, kombucha and sauerkraut are thought to affect the same parts of your brain as some anti-depressants do. Including these wonderful foods in the diet can help with feelings related to anxiety and depression. The good bacteria in fermented foods directly influences mood and emotions. An enormous body of research links gut health to mental health, and the probiotics and prebiotics in fermented foods actively affect the environment of our gut. A healthier gut means a healthier mind.
You may already be familiar with the concept that fish is good ‘brain food.’ That is because good quality oily fish contains DHA. DHA is an Omega-3 fatty acid, which helps improve both short and long-term memory, contributing to optimal brain health. Additionally, a diet high in Omega 3 fatty acids can also help to boost feelings of mental health and wellness and reduce levels of anxiety.
- Leafy Greens
There are many reasons to eat your greens, and brain health is one of them. Studies have shown that people who regularly consume daily servings of leafy greens such as spinach, kale and collard greens have a slower rate of cognitive decline. Leafy greens are also high in dopamine and also magnesium. The former being wonderful for focus and concentration, and the latter being terrific for lowering stress and anxiety and promoting sleep and recovery in the body.
Have you ever stopped to notice that walnuts in fact look exactly like a brain? This is for good reason. Walnuts are wonderful for long-term brain health. They are full of antioxidants which help to inhibit oxidation in the brain and body. Even more amazingly, these nuts can also lead to the growth of new neurons – which means walnuts can help to grow new brain cells, an essential aspect of maintaining good mental health.
While people seem to avoid carbohydrates a little more these days, wholegrain are an incredibly important part of our diet and offer a host of benefits. Wholegrains such as brown rice, quinoa, oats, rye and barley are a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps to produce serotonin- that ‘feel good’ hormone! Serotonin assists in calming the mind, improving mood and maintaining a steady sleep cycle.
While we commonly care for our physical body through exercise, diet and other means, our brain also requires care and attention. Various studies have shown that the more one eats a western or highly processed diet, the more one is at risk for developing psychiatric symptoms, such as depression and anxiety. Therefore, by adding foods mentioned above in our diet can not only boost our brain’s ability to optimally function, but also go a long way in improving our mood, stress levels and ability to cope with what life hands.
At Refine Naturals™, we believe in a holistic approach for a mental health. At Refine Naturals™, we believe “You Deserve Better than FINE!”
- Owen L, Corfe B. The role of diet and nutrition on mental health and wellbeing. Proc Nutr Soc. 2017 Nov;76(4):425-426.
- Dinan TG, Cryan JF. Brain-Gut-Microbiota Axis and Mental Health. Psychosom Med. 2017 Oct;79(8):920-926.
- Dawson SL, Dash SR, Jacka FN. The Importance of Diet and Gut Health to the Treatment and Prevention of Mental Disorders. Int Rev Neurobiol. 2016;131:325-346.