We all know the benefits of fresh, healthy food on the body – but how about the mind? Recent research has found evidence that the lack of key nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, B-vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D, result in depressive symptoms. In fact, clinical treatment often involves supplementing one or more of these nutrients. The fact that we can get plenty of vitamin D with just a few minutes in the sun is one indicator that modern lifestyle patterns are missing essential components for optimal health.
Here are some of the top picks to help feed your brain and improve your mental health and wellness.
We’ve always heard that fish oil is good ‘brain food’ – but why? Well, it’s due to Omega-3 fatty acids known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which helps improve both short and long-term memory, contributing to optimal brain health. Additionally, a diet high in Omega 3 fatty acids can also help to boost feelings of mental health and wellness and reduce levels of anxiety.
You can find EPA and DHA in ‘oily’ fish such as Oysters, salmon, mackerel, tuna, cod liver, trout and prawns, or if you’re not keen on seafood, try a fish oil supplement.
Berries contain antioxidants that help protect our bodies from disease and age-related health risks. But “further scientific evidence exits that eating blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and other berry fruits has beneficial effects on the brain and may help prevent age-related memory loss and other changes. Blueberries in particular have been found to help
assist in improving symptoms associated with anxiety and depression.” (Apples and Bananas have also made the new list of Antidepressant Food rankings.)
“If you’re after a snack that happens to help your long-term brain health, make it a handful of walnuts. They look like a brain for a reason.”
Walnuts are full of antioxidants, helping to inhibit oxidation in the brain and body. Even more amazingly, these nuts can also lead to the growth of new neurons – basically, this means walnuts can help us to grow new brain cells, an essential aspect of maintaining good mental health. (Their cousins Mr. Almond and Mr. Brazil Nut are also up there)
According to a recent study published in Neurology, people who regularly consumed daily servings of leafy greens such as spinach, cabbage, broccoli, watercress, kale, fresh herbs and collard greens have a slower rate of cognitive decline compared to those who avoided piling their plates with greens.
Wholegrains are a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps to produce serotonin (aka, the ‘feel good hormone’). Serotonin assists in calming the mind, improving your mood and maintaining a steady sleep cycle. Rich wholegrain foods include: Oatmeal (our grandparents knew best starting her day with a bowl of porridge), Barley, Brown Rice, Buckwheat, Whole-wheat bread, pasta or crackers, even popcorn!
Matcha Green Tea
“Matcha is derived from a plant called Camellia Sinensis, which is the same plant that green tea is sourced from. While green tea leaves usually come in the form of a tea bag, matcha is in powder form. Matcha is actually 100 per cent green tea leaves that have been ground into a fine powder.”
“Matcha contains the amino acid L-theanine, (often described as nature’s valium) and lots of research has been conducted exploring how l-theanine can promote alpha brain waves, which helps with enhancing mood and aids in concentration and alertness. This is likely why Buddhist monks drink it to help with meditation.”
(Remember this is a natural route and although will help, it will not replace the expert help. Do not take any of these foods in excess, (too much of anything isn’t good for you) AND Certainly talk to your doctor always first! especially before using food as medicine to prevent or treat brain-related health issues.)