What we choose to put into our bodies can directly affect our mental health. Studies have shown that certain vitamins and minerals in the foods we eat are capable of improving our mental health and alleviating symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. It’s important to eat healthy foods for both our physical and mental health. Here are 6 of the top superfoods you should incorporate into your diet.
Fatty or oily fish contain Omega-3 fatty acids that improve memory and reduce anxiety. Omega-3 acids are incredibly effective in the body in many ways and they are essential for brain function. They’ve been known to reduce symptoms of depression and other mood disorders. Here are some of the best fish that are loaded with Omega-3s.
- Albacore Tuna
For vegetarians or vegans, flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts are a great source of omega-3s to boost your brain health.
Leafy greens are high in folic acid. Deficiencies of folic acid and other B vitamins are linked to insomnia, depression, and fatigue. Getting the right amount of leafy greens in your diet will help combat depression and other mental health conditions. Here are some leafy green superfoods to add into your diet regularly for optimal mental health.
- Collard Greens
Berries are extremely high in antioxidants and have loads of benefits for our bodies and brain. Antioxidants are great for fighting free radicals, reducing inflammation, and repairing damaged cells. Studies show that there is a link between mental health issues and free radicals. The antioxidants in berries have been found to ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Berries make the perfect superfoods snack. Try these berries for the highest antioxidants.
Research shows that our gut health is directly related to our mental health. The prebiotics and probiotics in fermented foods promote a healthy gut. Fermented foods have been found to affect the same parts of the brain as some anti-depressants. Adding more fermented foods to your diet can ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. Below are fermented superfoods to eat for a healthier gut and mind.
Cacao has been around for ages and it has huge health benefits. It’s packed with nutrients and natural compounds that elevate your mood, increase memory, and overall brain function . It also contains magnesium which lowers cortisol resulting in lower levels of stress. Dark chocolate has a higher percentage of cacao than milk chocolate, making it purer. For the cacao in its most pure form, choose ceremonial grade cacao. Next time you’re craving something sweet, grab some dark chocolate to reap the benefits.
Studies have shown that high inflammation in the body are associated with many mental health conditions. Curcumin is a natural compound in turmeric that can reduce inflammation and ease symptoms of stress and depression. Turmeric is a spice commonly found in Indian food that is easily incorporated into your diet. Add it to eggs, stews, or enjoy a golden milk latte to get your turmeric fix.
Foods to Avoid
Just as many foods can positively affect our physical and mental health, there are foods that can negatively affect us. Studies show that a Western diet high in sugar and processed foods has been linked to more symptoms of depression. Eating these foods can lead to fatigue and worsen symptoms of depression. For the best mental health, it’s important to avoid these foods:
- Processed foods
- Saturated fats
If you want to prioritize your mental health, practice eating whole foods and include superfoods into your diet to get the necessary vitamins and minerals you need. If you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, or any kind of emotional distress, it could be beneficial to talk to a therapist. In therapy you can get support and learn strategies to cope with problems you may be facing and be the best version of yourself. Talk to someone today.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with MyTherapist.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.