Improve Your Mental Health By Improving Your Diet
We are privileged to have the choice between eating to live and living to eat, and you will not be faulted if you admit to the latter. After all, delicious food and drinks are everywhere. It would be a waste not to try as many as you can in a lifetime.
With that said, there is, of course, a considerable difference between what’s good for our health and what’s not really that good for us. The obvious part is how the right combination of foods every day can make our body mostly impervious to all sorts of health problems. What’s not obvious is how food can affect our mental health.
Eating for Mental Health
There’s a long, complicated explanation of how food affects our mood and overall mental health. However, the gist is that the brain is also an organ and has the same or slightly different nutritional needs as any other organ in the body. If you eat foods high in brain nutrients like choline or omega-3, suffice to say your brain will function better, and you will have better memory retention, focus, and more minor mood fluctuations.
Science has also long connected the brain and our gut, and with good reason. Many hormones responsible for hunger, happiness, mood, and neurotransmitters like serotonin are primarily sourced from our gut.
Our gut is home to trillions of gut microbial cells and is the primary recipient of the food we eat. The body uses the byproducts they produce for all sorts of functions, including maintaining a good level of mental health. Taking care of our gut microbial cells will almost certainly translate to better mental health.
Recipes for A Healthy Mind
Start your road to a healthier brain with our handpicked recipes that prioritize foods with lots of brain nutrients!
Blueberry and nut oat bake
This power breakfast will not just energize you as you prepare for a long day at work or school. This colorful breakfast recipe packs quite a nutritional punch, with blueberries being the highlight.
Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals that support the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Oats can also help reduce hunger pangs and stabilize blood sugar levels in the process.
Time: 40 minutes
- 500ml almond milk
- 200g jumbo porridge oats
- 2 tbsp almond butter
- 1 tsp baking powder
- One egg, beaten
- One small ripe banana, mashed
- ½ tsp almond extract or 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- 450g blueberries, plus extra to serve
- 30g whole, skin-on almonds, roughly chopped
- milk or fat-free yogurt and honey, to serve (optional)
Flaxseeds, spinach, almonds, and bananas in one healthy glass make for a great relaxing beverage. Bananas also happen to be called the happy fruit as not only does it resemble a smile, but it also contains tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid the brain uses to make the feel-good hormone serotonin.
Time: 5 minutes
- 250ml milk of your choice (we used unsweetened almond milk)
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 1 tsp maca powder (optional)
- pinch ground cinnamon
- 1 Medjool date, stoned
- One small ripe banana
- handful cavolo nero or spinach
- 1 tbsp almond butter
Stir-fried broccoli with coconut
Broccoli and other leafy greens are always healthy. For our brain, this dish is brimming with magnesium, which many refer to as a calming mineral as it’s an essential nutrient in the production of GABA. GABA is a neurotransmitter that plays a significant role in how relaxed we are or how well we sleep at night.
Time: 20 minutes
- 6 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 ½ tsp mustard seed
- 3 tbsp fresh or dried curry leaf
- a pinch of chili flakes
- Four red onions, thickly sliced
- 100g ginger, shredded
- 800g thin-stemmed broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 100g/4oz fresh or frozen grated coconut or 3 tbsp desiccated coconut
- juice two limes
What we eat does more than fill us, as food contains all the necessary nutrients the human body needs to perform everyday tasks and maintain a healthy mind. Therefore, we must balance our desires to eat what we want and what our body and mind actually need. If we can manage to eat healthy most of the time, not only will we feel strong and healthy, we’ll also be more likely to be happy.