Mental health is not only the avoidance of serious mental illness. Your mental health is affected by numerous factors from your daily life, including the stress of balancing work with your health and relationships as well as what you eat! Here are my suggestions for you in terms of how your diet can help your thoughts.
#1 Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Our diet is really deficient in Omega 3 Fatty Acids. So its wise for you to eat more wild cold water fish such as Salmon, Herring and Sardines. If you are a vegetarian, I suggest you increase your intake of seaweed, walnuts and flaxseeds. Grind up some flaxseeds and take a tablespoon once to three times a day. Sprinkle it over your dinner, porridge, cereal, salads, you name it, or you can just take it as is. Our brain is largely made up of fat and our body needs a diet rich in Omega 3’s so we can produce neurotransmitters, which are brain chemicals responsible for our mood, learning and memory.
#2 Whole Grains
Your brain needs sugar to function and this primarily comes from carbohydrates. But simple carbohydrates like white bread, rice, potatoes, chips, candy can make your mood worse by spiking your blood sugar, which has shown to create a similar reaction inside your brain as if you are taking drugs! Healthy sources of complex carbohydrates help balance the blood sugar in your brain and they include whole-wheat products, bulgur, oats, wild rice, barley, beans and soy. Most importantly you have to eat something every two or three hours, nothing large, just something so that your body doesn’t have to stress over getting enough sugar for the brain.
#3 Lean Protein
Protein is really important because it breaks into amino acids, which your brain uses to make more of those brain chemicals, which can affect your mood, sleep, and awareness. Eat protein with every meal to help stabilize your blood sugar.
#4 Vegetables & Fruits
Green vegetables like spinach; romaine, turnip, mustard greens, and broccoli are high in folic acid, an important B Vitamin that has been linked to higher rates of depression, fatigue and insomnia. I think Popeye was on to something when he needed a can of spinach to get his strength! Fruits and vegetables in general carry high amounts of phytonutrients that are beneficial for the body. Here is a great way to make snacks out of it so you don’t have resort to processed foods.
#5 Fermented Foods
Recent research shows that eating fermented food such as yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, and Kimchi markedly reduces social anxiety and stress hormones. The microbiome, a population of beneficial bacteria that inhabit our gut, play an essential role in mental health and can dictate the way we feel.