According to the World Health Organization, one in every eight people worldwide lives with a mental disorder. The most common mental health conditions include anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, and PTSD. In the U.S., there are more than 57 million adults with mental illness. This alarming figure may be due to the relative prevalence of poor nutrition in the country.
A medical survey published in PubMed showed that people who eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and less fatty food have a reduced risk of depression. Conversely, individuals that prefer processed and fatty foods over fruits and vegetables have a higher risk of depression. This discovery confirms the relationship between mental health and diet. Thus, eating right is vital to improving your mental health.
Here are some tips on improving your brain health with your diet:
Eat More Fruits, Vegetables, and Whole Grains
Fruits and vegetables are good sources of essential vitamins and minerals that enhance brain health. Vitamin B9 (folic acid), found in leafy vegetables and oranges, helps improve mental health and boosts mood. Avocados and bananas are rich in magnesium, which improves nervous system function. Also, cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cabbage, contain coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant that protects the brain.
You should also include whole grains in your diet as they contain vitamin B1 (thiamin), which helps the brain and nerves communicate.
Eat Regularly and Drink Enough Water
Starving yourself leads to low blood sugar, affecting your mood and making you short-tempered. You can prevent this situation by eating enough food regularly.
Not drinking enough water can cause dehydration, leading to mood swings, tiredness, and loss of concentration. The Mayo Clinic urges men to drink about 15.5 cups of water daily, while women should drink 11.5 cups daily.
Eat the Right Amounts of Fats and Protein
Eating enough healthy fats (unsaturated fats) will enable your brain to function well. This type of fat is found in seeds, nuts, olive oil, rapeseed oil, eggs, avocados, and milk. However, unhealthy fats, also known as trans fats, are harmful to your brain health.
In an article published on its website, the Mental Health Foundation advises:
“Avoid trans fats – often found in processed or packaged foods – as they can be bad for your mood and your heart health.”
Furthermore, protein-rich foods contain brain-friendly nutrients, such as amino acids, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and zinc. Some good sources of protein include lean meat, legumes, cheese, beans, eggs, shellfish, oysters, and low-fat dairy.
Take Care of Your Gut Health
Your gut health can affect your mood and stress levels. Therefore, eating foods that are healthy for the digestive system can improve your mental health. Some gut-friendly foods include fruits, vegetables, probiotics, and beans.
Reduce Your Caffeine Intake
Too much caffeine can make you more anxious and irritable. It can also lead to sleep problems, further affecting your mental health. To avoid these problems, don’t consume too much of foods high in caffeine. Sources of caffeine include coffee, chocolate, tea, cola, and energy drinks.
In conclusion, it’s safe to say that a healthy diet leads to a healthy brain. Although mental disorders are more common than ever, you can improve your mental health by eating well. This is one approach Grand Brook Memory Care uses to boost the brain health of our residents.