Eating with Mental Health in Mind
When we think of reasons to maintain a healthy diet, physical health, such as a healthy weight, may be first to come to mind. However, recent research is proving that the connection between a healthy diet and a healthy mind is clear and undeniable. Even a new field of study, called Nutritional Psychiatry, has been created to connect the two.
Food is the fuel that supplies your brain with what it needs to function. The better the quality of food, the more effective your mind will be, which will ultimately improve your mood.
Here are a few ways you can improve your mental well-being through the foods you eat:
- Stay hydrated with water. Even mild dehydration has been shown to cause fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and mood changes.
- Look for foods high in folate or folic acid. Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, fruits, nuts, and beans are high in these nutrients and have been linked to a lower risk of depression.
- Have a healthy breakfast. Grabbing fruit, yogurt, or a whole grain granola bar in the morning can prevent feelings of “brain fog” and jump-start your metabolism for the day.
- Trade high-fat, sugary foods for a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Those who follow this basic dietary rule have been shown to have significantly less risk of depression.
- Get your Vitamin D. Lack of Vitamin D is associated with depression, and is thought to play a role in Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is sadness that occurs in the fall and winter. You can get the recommended amount of Vitamin D by being in the sun for as little as 5-30 minutes twice a week, and taking supplements when sunlight is not available.
- Eat fish to get your Omega-3. This nutrient has a mood-stabilizing effect. It also helps to improve the effectiveness of antidepressants and helps in the treatment of ADHD. Omega-3 can be found in oily fish, such as salmon and trout, as well as walnuts, flaxseed, olive oil, fresh basil, and dark green leafy vegetables.
The reasons to maintain a healthy diet are countless. Providing your body with the right fuel will not only improve your physical health, but also your overall mood. Make healthy choices whenever possible to stay on track for a healthy mind and body.