Almost everybody suffers from varying amounts of stress in their life due to financial, social, physical or other types of problems. Let’s talk about food and beverages for mental health.Stress levels have particularly increased in the past decade with the rise in technology(social media) and the increase in competitiveness in almost all spheres of life.High level of stress has lead to a rise in people suffering from various serious mental health diseases and getting caught in the cycle of depression. All this has culminated in people turning to yoga, pranayama, meditation, etc. looking for ways to reduce their stress and restore their normal cheerful self.Practicing yoga, pranayama, and meditation is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Instill a sense of peace within one’s mind and body.But there are other ways as well through which you can decrease stress and enhance your mental health.One such way is to consume foods and beverages that have mental health enhancing properties.
Here are 11 such foods which you can consume for improving your mental health:
Research has discovered that diets low in carbohydrates may exacerbate depression as the levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin are generated by carbohydrate-rich foods.Low GI (glycemic index) foods like whole grain bread provide moderate but long-lasting improvements in mood as opposed to high GI foods that provide immediate but short-lasting mood-enhancing effects.So always go for complex carbohydrates like whole grains, which are a great way to improve your mood while fueling your body.
According to a research study, regular consumption of leafy green vegetables like kale, romaine lettuce, etc. can help in preventing dementia.The study examined and analyzed the eating habits and mental capabilities of more than 950 older adults for an average of five years.It came to the conclusion that those adults who consumed a single serving of leafy green vegetables once or twice a day experienced a slower decline in mental health than those who ate no leafy green vegetables, even when all other factors like age, education and family history of dementia were taken into consideration.Leafy green veggies are also chock-full of vitamins A and K, which assist in combating inflammation and keeping your bones strong.
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that aid in the smooth functioning of the brain and enhance memory.Salmon also has anti-cancer properties and contains a host of other beneficial nutrients like vitamin D, which plays a crucial role in managing depression and supporting immune function.Besides omega-3 fatty acids, salmon also has ample amounts of anti-inflammatory fatty acids like DHA and EPA, which need to be consumed from food sources as they are not produced by our body.According to research, a lower intake of omega-3 fatty acids is linked with a higher risk of depression.When looking to purchase salmon, always opt for a wild salmon over a farmed one as it contains more omega-3 fatty acids and less saturated fats than farmed salmon.
Almonds are an abundant source of Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that helps in reducing oxidative damage.Oxidative damage is linked to Alzheimer’s disease and age-related decline, and low serum levels of Vitamin E are associated with poor memory, thus emphasizing the importance of consumption of vitamin E from food sources.Research has shown that almonds also assist in enhancing memory by increasing the levels of acetylcholine in the brain.
Walnuts contain omega-3 fats which aid in the optimum functioning of the brain, besides supporting memory and the processing of thoughts.Considering the fact that essential fats are directly used to create the outer membranes of cells and assist in neurotransmitter function, it is no surprise that they have the ability to reduce depression.Not consuming adequate amounts of essential fats can cause a decline in neurotransmitter function, leading to people experiencing the effects of a rise in anxiety, fatigue, chronic stress, etc.This explains the significance of healthy fats for excellent mental health.
Coconut oil has a host of health benefits concerning the brain.It works as a natural anti-inflammatory, repressing cells that cause inflammation.It may also assist in preventing memory loss as you get older.
Cocoa is abundant in flavanols, which are known to aid in the maintenance of a healthy brain.In addition, studies have shown that regular cocoa consumption enhances alertness and efficiency of the brain along with counterbalancing the decline in cognitive function.
Chia seeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids which have been proven to improve brain function and reduce depression.Research has also found that the omega-3 fatty acids found in chia seeds can help people suffering from mood disorders and reduce depression symptoms.
Fermented foods like yogurt with active cultures contain healthy bacteria (probiotics).These healthy bacteria are backed by research studies to reduce stress hormones, anxiety and effect the neurotransmitter GABA.
Green tea contains the amino acid L-the anine which according to research has the ability to relax your mind and enhance alertness without causing drowsiness.L-theanine increases dopamine and the production of alpha waves in the brain.Green tea also contains caffeine but in comparatively fewer amounts as compared to coffee.Caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine in the brain, thus helping in boosting the firing of neurons and the concentration of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine.It also improves memory, mood, vigilance and reaction time.The combination of L-theanine and caffeine is very effective in enhancing brain function.
Turmeric has been used throughout history for its healing properties.It contains a chemical compound called curcumin which makes turmeric one of the most effective anti-inflammatory foods for you to consume.It is also known to improve antioxidant levels and keep your immune system in a healthy condition along with enhancing your brain’s intake of oxygen, keeping you in an alert state and in a condition to process information.
We have reached the end of this list containing some of the most effective foods for enhancing your mental health.Pairing the consumption of these healthy foods with a routine practice of meditation, pranayama, and yoga will be the ideal way to cause a substantial improvement in your mental health.
Ari Banayan is born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. He along with his two closest friends Amir Atighehchi and Mikey Ahdoot founded “Habit Nest”, a startup company dedicated to helping people incorporate healthy lifestyle habits into their daily life. Additionally, he is also the co-founder of Nutlock and is the VP of Strategic Growth at DRNK coffee + tea and QWENCH juice bar.
Follow him on Twitter at @habitnest More information and his blog can be found at www.habitnest.com