Top Foods to Promote Good Mental Health
Many people don't realize how closely mental and physical health are related. If we want to have good, stable mental health, we have to take care of our bodies. This involves getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly, and, of course, eating nutritious foods.
If you regularly eat processed foods, things that have been fried, or snacks that are full of sugar, you're likely going to feel pretty sluggish and have little motivation. You may even find that you are less equipped to deal with stressful situations and more prone to mental health problems like anxiety and depression. The most important thing that you can invest in is your health and you can start today by adopting a healthy, well-balanced diet. You may be surprised by how much of a mental change you experience when you care for your physical health well.
Foods You Should Add to Your Diet
To fuel your brain and combat negative mental health effects, you should eat plenty of whole grains, leafy greens, omega-3-rich foods, and probiotics.
Whole grains are great for your mental health because they provide the brain with glucose. Glucose is important because it fuels the brain to run thought process operations like thinking, learning, and memory. Some of the best whole grains you can add to your diet include complex carbohydrates such as:
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat
Leafy greens are also incredibly important for mental health because they help provide folic acid which helps your body create new cells and maintain them. It also helps to combat tiredness and depression. Some great leafy greens to add to your diet include:
- Romaine lettuce
- Mustard greens
Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial to your overall health because they promote healthy organ function. They also help reduce inflammation which can relieve depression. Some great sources of omega-3s include:
- Chia seeds
- Cod liver oil
Probiotics are great for gut health and digestion. They also help produce neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate mood and appetite. They can reduce inflammation, bring down stress levels, and prevent anxiety. Some great probiotic options include:
- Pickled vegetables
Foods You Should Limit or Avoid
In the US, we're all about convenience. If you frequently find yourself rushing from place to place you may simply grab snacks as you go, without taking the time to prepare and eat a real, nutritious meal. If you're living off coffee instead of breakfast or stopping for fast food on the way home from work for dinner regularly, your body and your mental health may begin to suffer the consequences. Some foods and beverages you should limit in your diet or avoid completely include:
- Energy drinks
- Foods high in trans fat like pizza and potato chips
- Simple carbohydrates like bread, crackers, and bagels
- Highly processed meats
- Foods high in refined sugar
- Microwave dinners from the frozen aisle (often highly processed and full of harmful preservatives)
- Fried foods (often full of saturated fat)
Additional Tips for Mindful Eating
If you're ready to boost your mood, increase your energy levels and decrease your stress by making better food choices, consider implementing these additional tips into your life.
If you often find yourself rushing around during the work week and don't have enough time to prepare a proper meal every day, consider meal prepping. On Sunday night, prepare five servings worth of a nutritious meal. You can then divide the portions up and pack them into individual containers. Throughout the week you'll have them ready to go as needed.
Mindful Grocery Shopping
This practice involves coming up with a grocery list ahead of time and sticking to it, rather than mindlessly pacing the aisles without a plan and grabbing unhealthy food items that seem enticing at the store. It's also always a good idea to avoid grocery shopping on an empty stomach as doing so may cause you to impulse-purchase easier but less health-conscious options.
Healthy Fats Over Trans-Fats
Work healthy fats into your diet. This can be done easily by using coconut oil or olive oil when cooking. Avoid trans-fats (often found in processed foods) as they can negatively impact your mood.
Make sure you are staying hydrated. Not drinking enough water can impact your ability to focus and can heighten your stress levels.
If you like having a warm beverage in the morning, consider swapping your daily cup (or cups) of coffee for green tea. It still contains caffeine, though not as much as coffee, which may help decrease anxiety and restlessness.
The saying "you are what you eat" has more truth to it than you may think. What you eat can have a major impact on your mental health. If you want to experience stable mental health, you must take care of yourself from the inside out. Pay more careful attention to the foods you eat, meal prep so you don't fall into the trap of eating junk food or fast food, and switch processed foods for nutritious and well-balanced meals. By making these changes you may be surprised by just how much better you feel. Knowing the best things to eat, especially if you've had poor eating habits for a long time, can be difficult to learn by yourself. SokyaHealth can help guide you to better nutrition and help treat any mental health concerns you may have. For help with your mental health, call SokyaHealth at (877) 840-6956.