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3 Ways to Improve Mental Health

Eating well can improve mental health.  You’ve heard that eating well can improve heart health as well as reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity.  Carolyn C. Ross M.D., M.P.H from Psychology Today says that ‘few simple dietary changes may boost cognitive function and reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders.’
Research shows that one of the best ways to improve your mental health is through your gut. Much like the brain, your gut has its own nervous system, and via the vagus nerve, sends information and messages to the brain. This explains why you might feel a bit queasy when you are feeling a bit nervous or stressed.  Just as the brain impacts the gut, so is it a two-way street where the gut impacts the brain too.

Here are 5 foods that can help your brain to work at its best:

Fatty Fish

The omega 3 fatty acids, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) have been shown to have positive effects on your mental health.  This is in part due to the fact that your brain is made up largely of fat.
  • Cold water fish such as tuna, herring, salmon, sardines, mackerel
  • Seaweed
  • Flaxseed
  • Walnuts

Whole Grains

Glucose, which comes from carbohydrates, is the primary source of energy for the brain.  There are simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates.  Simple carbs such as cookies, cakes, chocolate exacerbate low mood by creating spikes in blood sugar.  They have also been shown to have effects on the brain similar to drugs of abuse.
Complex carbs release glucose slowly therefore not creating blood sugar spikes and helping to create satiety.

Lean Protein

The amino acid tryptophan is a building block of protein. It influences mood by producing the neurotransmitter serotonin. Lean protein sources include fish, turkey, chicken, eggs and beans. Complex carbohydrates help to facilitate the entry of tryptophan into the brain, thus helping to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety and improving overall cognitive functioning.

Leafy Greens

Broccoli are high in folic acid, as are beets and lentils. Deficiencies in folate as well as other B vitamins have been associated with higher rates of depression, fatigue and insomnia.
Broccoli also contains selenium. Some studies suggest that low levels of selenium contribute to depression, anxiety and fatigue. Other sources of selenium include chicken, onions, seafood, walnuts and brazil nuts, and whole-grain products.

Yogurt with Active Cultures

Probiotics (healthy bacteria) which have been shown in studies to reduce anxiety and effect the neurotransmitter GABA.

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