Foods For Mental Health
Mental health refers to social, psychological, and emotional well-being. Mental health involves proper cognitive functioning and brain health. Impact on mental health can influence our perception, mood, and behaviour in response to the surrounding environment.
Poor mental health can cause many problems such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia, etc.
Also read: Mental health • Depression • Anxiety
The social circumstances, economic condition, biological factors, and lifestyle of a person shapes his or her mental health.
Mental health is crucial for our holistic well-being. A person can have everything in life, but he won’t be happy if he suffers from poor mental health. Mental problems can impact your relationships and lifestyle. It can make you more prone to bad habits such as alcoholism.
Recently, the Indian government shed light on mental health awareness during the Covid pandemic. Mental health awareness, especially among the workforce of India, was also highlighted in the union budget 2022. It was a revolutionary step in a country where mental problems are perceived as taboo.
There are many tips that one can follow to improve mental well-being. It can be improved through meditation, yoga, physical exercise, sleeping well, eating healthy etc. In this article, we will only focus on the various kinds of food that we can eat to improve our mental health.
foods for improving mental health
1. Whole grains
Whole grains include oats, whole wheat, soy, wild brown rice, and millets. Whole grains are unprocessed or minimally processed. They do not contain any additives or preservatives, making them a healthier option than processed grains.
Yoghurt is rich in probiotics, which improve digestion and stomach health. Probiotics are also associated with reducing stress, anxiety and depression. It also improves cognitive function. Yoghurt converts the stress hormones into feel-good hormones inside the brain.
Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts are great foods for mental health. Nuts are rich in antioxidants, iron, zinc, and multiple mood-boosting vitamins. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their mood-improving properties.
4. Olive oil
Olive oil is a part of the Mediterranean diet, which is considered the healthiest diet in the world. It contains polyphenols which improve brain health by protecting tissues and cells from the stress hormone. It also reduces inflammation in the body which reduces depression.
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which is a kind of antioxidant. Eating tomatoes improves cell health due to the presence of antioxidants in them. The lycopene in tomatoes can help improve brain health and reduce the risk of anxiety, depression and other mental issues.
6. Dark chocolate
Cocoa, an ingredient of chocolate, has many mood-boosting properties. You should consume dark chocolate containing more than 60 per cent cocoa for getting the most benefits. Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, a type of antioxidant that increases memory and attention.
7. Fatty fish
Fatty fish such as mackerel, herring, salmon, tuna, etc are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in the body and reduce stress on the brain tissue. Omega 3 fatty acids increase cognitive function in the brain and also improve mood, memory, and attention. Eating fatty fish may reduce the risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental problems.
berries such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc can improve mental health. They are rich in antioxidants, which improve cell health by fighting off free radicals in the body. Berries reduce inflammation in the brain and improve cognitive function.
9. Leafy green vegetables
Consumption of leafy green vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, kale, and lettuce is associated with improved mental functioning and slower cognitive decline. Green leafy vegetables are rich in magnesium, iron, folic acid, and vitamin A. The presence of these nutrients and minerals boosts mood, memory, and cognitive function.
Coffee is known for its mental health benefits. Moderate consumption of coffee is associated with boosting mood, improving memory, and reducing inflammation in the brain. Coffee helps you perform better at work and other activities by increasing your alertness and memory. However, it should be noted that only moderate consumption of coffee helps improve brain function. If consumed in excess, coffee can increase anxiety and other mental issues.
11. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits such as lemon and orange are rich in vitamin C, which is known for reducing inflammation and improving brain function. They may reduce the risk of mental disorders because of the presence of flavonoids in them. Citrus fruits reduce stress on brain tissues and help protect them.