The food that we consume can play a very direct role in how we feel not only physically, but mentally as well. Our bodies and minds are connected in a complex way, and how we fuel our body is something that should never be overlooked. Thankfully, we now have a much better understanding of what brain healthy foods we should be incorporating into our daily lives than we did even a couple of decades ago. Mental health is just as important as the physical health, and supporting the mental state is one of the most vital things we can do for ourselves. Today, we’re going to talk about the correlation between diet and mental health and some of the most nutritionally dense foods we know of to support brain health.
The Connection Between Nutrition and Mental Health
There are of course so many different factors that come into play when we talk about mental health and illnesses that affect it. Mental illnesses can often be tied to aspects like a person’s genetic makeup or life circumstances, and there’s growing evidence regarding just how much the diet plays a role in someone’s mental state. The mind-body connection isn’t always taken into account in western health practices and the significance of factors such as an individual’s diet is many times ignored. In a society where processed foods are more prevalent than ever, it’s time to acknowledge how the food we consume is affecting how we feel within and start using integrative approaches to support our health.
Beneficial Foods and Nutrients for Brain Health
Our knowledge of which foods are the best at supporting brain health is ever evolving but we have a pretty good idea of which foods have the largest impact on brain health. This study that was published in 2016 goes into the effects that different nutrients can have on cognitive function. Some of the very best brain healthy foods that we know of include, but are not limited to:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Foods like fatty fish (tuna, salmon, and sardines), avocados, walnuts, and flaxseeds are all great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. It’s understood that omega-3s help reduce harmful proteins that worsen cognitive decline. There are also plenty of omega-3 supplements to choose from if incorporating the actual foods isn’t feasible.
We’ve all been told that eating our greens is good for us, but it really is one of the best things we can do to support the mental health! Spinach, kale, and collard greens are a few examples of leafy vegetables that are rich in nutrients like vitamin K and excellent for brain health.
Berries are high in antioxidants, which are compounds that help fight oxidative stress in our bodies. Oxidative stress is known to have detrimental effects on cognitive function, but the nutrient-dense flavonoids found in the dark skins of berries are one of the best sources of antioxidants available to us.
If you regularly consume things like kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt, then you’re receiving amazing brain benefits. There have been studies that link certain probiotics to the improvement of mental illnesses like anxiety and depression.
You can also take a look at what Harvard has to say about diet and mental health inthis publication. The neurotransmitter serotonin plays a vital role in how a person feels mentally, and it just so happens that around 95% of serotonin is produced in the stomach! It’s no wonder that the food we intake is so directly correlated to how we feel within our minds!
Nutrition and Mental Health Support at ReConnect
We can do things each day to ensure we’re supporting our mental health and being selective of what we eat is certainly one of them. When we feel good mentally, it trickles into all other areas of our life and helps us feel better physically, too. At ReConnect, we understand that the body and mind are not separate, but in fact one. We want to help you achieve your absolute best and healthiest self. Functional nutrition is an integrative approach to diet and overall wellbeing, and you can conveniently book a consultation with our strongly vetted team of holistic practitioners that are ready to help you bring your mind-body connection back into perfect harmony.