Top 5 Foods to Improve Mental Health

We talk a lot about health. We talk about how to keep your heart healthy, your gut healthy, your liver, and even your skin healthy. How to stay healthy is a big topic that is widely discussed and you can hardly go anywhere without having some product being promoted to improve your health.

With all this talk about health, there is one subject that is hardly touched upon and that is mental health. Whether it is because of the stigma associated with it or because it is something that we aren’t “supposed to talk about,” it is often left out of the discussion. When people think of mental health, they don’t equate it as being the same as a physical illness. It is seen as something that you can just “turn off” or something that only people with low willpower experience. The fact is, none of these things are true.

In this blog, you’ll discover:

  • How common mental illness really is
  • What foods you can use to combat some of the most prominent mental illnesses
  • Foods that make mental illness worse
  • How supplements can help with mental illness

While most mental illnesses are not completely understood and the exact causes are hard to pin down, we do know that there are a variety of factors that come into play. Mental illness is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, psychological, and environmental factors, rather than a defective characteristic within an individual. Many disorders can be attributed to an imbalance in chemicals, or neurotransmitters, in the brain that help nerve cells communicate with one another. In short, illness can be caused by a lack of communication within the brain, beyond the control of the sufferer.

 

MENTAL ILLNESS IS RARE, RIGHT?

One of the misconceptions about mental disorders and illnesses is that they are rare when in truth, they are very common. This misconception comes from the lack of discussion and the lack of understanding.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 43 million Americans are affected by mental illness every year [1]. That is 1 in 5 people. That is more than cancer, diabetes, and heart disease [2]. This means, chances are either you or someone close to you suffers from a mental disorder, whether you know it or not.

When it comes to mental illness, depression and anxiety are two of the most common disorders. When we talk about other forms of illness, such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, one of the first things we turn to is our nutrition and the impact that it can have on our health.

“How can we improve it so that we are at a lower risk of developing one of these diseases?”

“What foods can help me manage an illness that I already have?”

“How can I more naturally battle my illness?”

These are some of the questions we ask ourselves, so why should mental health be any different? There are ways we can use our nutrition to better ourselves mentally. Through nutrition and proper supplementation, you can better improve your overall mental health and improve the symptoms of depression and anxiety. These foods can help relieve symptoms of certain mental illnesses and improve overall mental health. 

 

5 FOODS THAT IMPROVE MENTAL HEALTH

  • Sweet Potato  

The sweet potato, when eaten the right way, can help boost your mood because it is loaded with vitamin B6, promoting the enzymes that are responsible for producing the mood-regulating neurotransmitter, dopamine [3].

Research has found a correlation between low levels of B6 and symptoms of depression and by adding B6 to your diet, you can help alleviate these symptoms [4, 5].

When eating sweet potatoes you want to avoid making them into the popular candied versions we eat during Thanksgiving. Instead, try baking them and adding a little bit of grass-fed butter. Or, you can try one of the many natural recipes found in the Sweet Potato Diet.

⚡ Related: Learn the Top Health Benefits of the Sweet Potato

  • Salmon

The reason salmon is so great for someone suffering from a mental illness like depression is that it is full of omega-3 fatty acids. Just 3 oz of salmon more than fulfills our daily recommended amount.

Omega-3 fatty acids are known to reduce the symptoms of depression and bipolar disorder. Research shows that a daily dose of omega-3 cause a decrease in depression over time, with some patients seeing up to a 50% decrease [4, 6].

Salmon is also high in tryptophan, an amino acid that is responsible for the creation of serotonin. A lack of serotonin, as well as dopamine, have been associated with low mood and aggression [4].

  • Spinach

Spinach, along with other dark leafy greens, contains high amounts of folate acid, which can be beneficial if you are suffering from depression. Studies have found that people with depression generally have lower blood folate levels than those who are healthy. On average, the difference is about 25% less [4].

  • Berries

Eating berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are all great at fighting depression due to their high levels of antioxidants. A study published in the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine found that patients treated with antioxidants found a dramatic drop in their depression [7].

  • Oysters

Oysters have among the highest levels of zinc and this can help those who suffer from depression. Low zinc levels have been long associated with depression. The consumption of zinc has been proven to increase the effectiveness of therapy, while also protecting brain cells against damage from free radicals [8, 9].

 

FOODS TO AVOID

Providing your brain with good nutrition is a great way to manage your mental health, but it is also just as important what you don’t eat.

The first thing you want to avoid is processed food. Many ingredients found in processed foods, including sugar and artificial additives, promote depression, anxiety, and other forms of mental illnesses.

Keeping your mental health in check starts with eating whole foods that are all-natural and free of artificial ingredients. If you are having trouble knowing what to eat, sign up for a Custom Meal Plan, where you can be sure you are eating a diet of whole foods and you can even specifically ask for the 5 foods above to be included in your plan.

SUPPLEMENTATION

Taking a supplement that supports brain health, such as Thrive, can help to promote mental health, as some of the natural ingredients can have a positive, mood-boosting effect. Thrive has three ingredients, specifically, that have been found to improve symptoms of depression and anxiety, including, Skullcap, Ginseng Root, and Ashwagandha [10, 11, 12].

Another way to supplement for your mental health is by taking Krill Oil. Salmon is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, but not everyone likes the taste of fish, or you want to be sure to get enough Omega-3’s every day, without being on a diet full of fish. Simply take a Krill Oil every day and get all the benefits you would get from eating salmon.

 

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