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Eating Well For Your Mental Health


From a young age, we’re taught that eating well helps us look and feel our physical best. What we’re not always told is that good nutrition significantly affects our mental health, too.

A healthy, well-balanced diet can help us think clearly and feel more alert.


One of the biggest health impairments is society’s reliance on processed foods. These foods are high in flours and sugar and train the brain to crave more of them, rather than nutrient-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables.


A lot of the processed foods we eat are highly addictive and stimulate the dopamine centers in our brain, which are associated with pleasure and reward. In order to stop craving unhealthy foods, you’ve got to stop eating those foods. You actually start to change the physiology in the brain when you pull added sugars and refined carbohydrates from your diet.


Stress and Depression


According to the American Dietetic Association, people tend to either eat too much or too little when depressed or under stress. Eat too much and you find yourself dealing with sluggishness and weight gain. Eat too little and the resulting exhaustion makes this a hard habit to break. In either case, poor diet during periods of stress and depression only makes matters worse. This cycle is a vicious one, but it can be overcome.

To boost your mental health, focus on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables along with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon. Dark green leafy vegetables in particular are brain protective. Nuts, seeds and legumes, such as beans and lentils, are also excellent brain foods.


A Healthy Gut

Researchers continue to prove the old adage that you are what you eat, most recently by exploring the strong connection between our intestines and brain. Our guts and brain are physically linked via the vagus nerve, and the two are able to send messages to one another. While the gut is able to influence emotional behavior in the brain, the brain can also alter the type of bacteria living in the gut.


Mindful Eating

Paying attention to how you feel when you eat, and what you eat, is one of the first steps in making sure you’re getting well-balanced meals and snacks. Since many of us don’t pay close attention to our eating habits, nutritionists recommend keeping a food journal. Documenting what, where and when you eat is a great way to gain insight into your patterns.


Brain Food

Your brain and nervous system depend on nutrition to build new proteins, cells and tissues. In order to function effectively, your body requires a variety of carbohydrates, proteins and minerals. To get all the nutrients that improve mental functioning, nutritionists suggest eating meals and snacks that include a variety of foods, instead of eating the same meals each day.

Here are the top three foods to incorporate into a healthy mental diet:

  • Complex carbohydrates — such as brown rice and starchy vegetables can give you energy. Quinoa, millet, beets and sweet potatoes have more nutritional value and will keep you satisfied longer than the simple carbohydrates found in sugar and candy.

  • Lean proteins — also lend energy that allows your body to think and react quickly. Good sources of protein include chicken, meat, fish, eggs, soybeans, nuts and seeds.

  • Fatty acids — are crucial for the proper function of your brain and nervous system. You can find them in fish, meat, eggs, nuts and flaxseeds.



Healthy Tips

  • Steer clear of processed snack foods, such as potato chips, which can impair your ability to concentrate. Pass up sugar-filled snacks, such as candy and soft drinks, which lead to ups and downs in energy levels.

  • Consume plenty of healthy fats, such as olive oil, coconut oil and avocado. This will support your brain function.

  • Have a healthy snack when hunger strikes, such as fruit, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, baked sweet potatoes or edamame. This will give you more energy than packaged products.

  • Develop a healthy shopping list and stick to it.

  • Don’t shop while hungry, since you’ll be more apt to make unhealthy impulse purchases.

  • Think about where and when you eat. Don’t eat in front of the television, which can be distracting and cause you to overeat. Instead, find a place to sit, relax and really notice what you’re eating. Chew slowly. Savor the taste and texture.


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"To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we will not be able to keep our mind strong and clear"






















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