Your mental health is of prime importance and there is an intrinsic connection between your food and mind. For growing children, it is essential to eat a healthy and balanced diet for the optimal development of their mind. Most people are aware of this. The surprising thing is that adults too can structure their diet in a particular way to reap benefits for their mind. In this article, you will learn about the connection between food and your mental health as well as the ideal foods to eat to strengthen your mind.
The Connection between Food and Mind
What you eat eventually becomes you, whether you are a child or an adult.
In children and adolescents, a diet that is lacking in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other healthy fats, is likely to lead to learning and attention-related disorders. Kids who mostly eat meals comprising of processed and junk food are much more likely to develop symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). The brains of these children do not get adequate nutrition and this can lead to a number of complications.
For adults, the hippocampus of the brain is directly impacted by the kind of food you eat. An increase in hippocampal volume will leave a positive effect on your attention span, emotions, memory, and autonomous nervous system. Thus, eating a healthy diet, rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals can help you to reduce chances of depression, anxiety, and other mental problems.
There is another factor that influences the correlation between food and your mind, the connection between your brain and gastrointestinal tract. There are billions of bacteria in your gut that help to produce neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, etc. Your body shares a symbiotic or mutually beneficial relationship with the good gut bacteria. It is possible to help the gut bacteria to thrive and strengthen your mind by eating the right kind of diet. On the other hand, an unhealthy diet rich in sugar and processed food will help the bad kind of bacteria to thrive and impact your well-being. Surprisingly, sugar can create an almost instantaneous high by helping with dopamine production but this feeling of happiness is temporary and is followed by a crash in your mood. So, unless you are ready to sign on for frequent mood swings, it is best to stay away from sugary treats. A healthy diet that is rich in certain kinds of food items will make you happier and give stable temperament as well as suppress incidents of anxiety or depression.
Foods that Help your Mind to Thrive
Some of the food items that you need to include in your diet in order to keep your mind healthy are listed below.
- Foods rich in dopamine
Dopamine helps you to find motivation and focus in life. It is very essential for you to have these qualities if you wish to be successful. Always make it a point to include dopamine-rich food items like broccoli, spinach, pumpkin seeds, beef, lamb, fish, eggs, etc. in your diet to give your mind a big boost. You will feel alive and do everything with active interest. Green tea contains theanine which helps in the production of neurotransmitters so drinking green tea would help too. You can use turmeric to flavor your meals as it is rich in dopamine too.
- Foods rich in serotonin
Serotonin is the famous happiness agent for human beings. It helps you to have a balanced and content mood. Also, it controls cravings for junk food, relieves pain, and helps you to sleep better. Tryptophan is the building block for serotonin and you would need to pair it with healthy carbohydrates in order to get the insulin response that would send it to your brain and lead to secretion of serotonin. Some of the tryptophan-rich food items are nuts, seeds, chickpeas, eggs, turkey, and seafood. You can combine them with carbohydrates like quinoa and oats to get ideal results. Dark chocolate is another food that effectively releases serotonin.
- Foods rich in GABA
GABA or Gamma-aminobutyric acid helps in regulating communication between the brain cells. Excessive communication between the cells can lead to anxiety disorders and intake of GABA can help to control anxiety and give you much sought-after “peace of mind”. Include food items like walnuts, almonds, oranges, bananas, spinach, broccoli, halibut, etc. in your diet to get the full range of benefits.
- Foods rich in choline
Choline is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is an important chemical for memory, mood, muscle control, and other important brain and nervous system functions. You can include choline-rich greens like collards and Brussels sprouts in your salads. Eggs, sardines, tuna, cod, shrimp, beef, chicken, and turkey are also important sources of choline.
- Foods rich in antioxidants
All food items rich in antioxidants are very essential for you to have good mental health. Berries, olive oil, cocoa powder, citrus fruits, etc. are all loaded with various antioxidants.
- Foods rich in prebiotic and probiotic
Prebiotics and probiotics are directly responsible for maintaining optimum health of your gut and resulting in proliferation of good bacteria. Fermented food is thus very good for your brain.
Some of the food items rich in prebiotics are asparagus, artichokes, cabbage, garlic, chia seeds, beans, sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, turnips, onions, leeks, etc. You can easily include these in your meals to reap the benefits.
Some of the food items rich in probiotics are sauerkraut, kimchi salad, pickles, kombucha tea, fermented foods, etc. These are important probiotics that help your gut health.
Good bacteria can help you to stay younger and much sharper in the mind. Also, they help you to stay happy and even-tempered.
- Spices that help your mind
Certain spices like turmeric, cinnamon, saffron, peppermint, etc. do not only add a lot of flavors to your meals but also help a lot to make you mentally alert. Throw in these spices when you cook to give your mind a natural boost.
In addition to this, you need to eat healthy and balanced meals containing protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This will help a lot in ensuring sound mental health for you.
Your mind is as important as your physical health. No matter what age you are, what you eat can influence your mental health to a great extent. It does not require a lot of work for you to eat right. Just a little bit of awareness and intent will help you to make sure that you are keeping away the terrifying diseases of the mind. Also, eating right is the easiest way to stay away from depression and embrace a life of happiness.