Now more than ever, mental health is of key importance in our daily lives. What we choose to fuel our bodies with has a huge impact on our mood, brain function and overall health.
By enjoying a wide variety of vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, legumes, wholegrains, proteins and healthy fats, symptoms of depression and anxiety can be prevented and improved. Feeding your body with nature’s rainbow and creating nourishing meals from all that the earth has to offer will help provide you with these essential nutrients. At the opposite end of the spectrum, a diet heavy in processed foods, salt, sugars and fats can lead to poor mental health and work to exacerbate the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
What to eat to improve and maintain your mental health:
- Eat at least 5 servings of vegetables and fruit every day. These colourful components of the diet contain a wealth of important nutrients including antioxidants that help to prevent cell damage.
- Eat 3 well-balanced meals, starting with breakfast. A good breakfast includes lean protein and complex, wholegrain carbohydrates, along with fibre and a little healthy fat. After a long night’s sleep, it gives your body the energy necessary to get moving and thinking.
- Choose good sources of protein, including eggs, nuts, fish, grains such as quinoa, yoghurt. Protein digests slowly, which helps stabilize blood sugar.
- Avoid high-sugar foods or refined carbohydrates, such as cakes, donuts and white bread.
- Make smart choices like fruit, legumes, vegetables, wholegrain. These fibre-rich foods can promote the growth of good gut bacteria that may have a positive effect on mental health and slower sugar absorption.
- Don’t forget to include good fats. These fats are important for our blood vessels and our brain and may have an important anti-inflammatory effect, helping to prevent depression. Sources of good fats inlclude seeds, nuts, avocado, olive oil, fish, eggs, and grass-fed beef.
- Fermented foods like yoghurt, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut and miso can also help to encourage the growth of good gut bacteria, positively impacting mental health.
- Drink plenty of water to improve blood flow, keep your brain well-hydrated, and support concentration. It will help you feel more alert and productive. Avoid sugary drinks, and drinks containing artificial sweeteners, colours, flavours, or preservatives. Limit alcohol and coffee intake to no more than 3 cups per day.
- Snack well. Healthy snacks such as nuts, fresh fruit, yogurt, veggies with hummus, can help keep your blood sugar stable and give you energy.