Food and Mental Health

January 30, 2021

Food and Mental Health

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Nia Rennix

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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.

  1. 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.

Conclusion

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.

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Keto Diet Plan: Here Are 3 Full Days of Recipes

The Keto diet is one of the best available options if you’re trying to lose weight safely and quickly. This diet allows you to eat delicious meats, healthy fats, and vegetables—all targeted to help you burn the extra fat on your body by putting you into ketosis! Fascinating, right? To understand how the Keto Diet works, you need to learn about macros responsible for fueling our body.

Macros refer to three essential nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids (fats). These are considered the three essential macronutrients that we consume to get energy. Usually, a typical meal consists of 60% carbohydrate, 20% protein, and 20% fat or lipid.

The Keto Diet suggests that you reduce carbohydrates and make your diet heavier in protein and fats. When you decide to go on a Keto Diet, your meals generally consist of 65% fat, 30% protein, and 5% carbohydrate. If the body gets less than 20 grams of carbohydrate each day, it goes into ketosis, a metabolic process that burns stored fat to produce ketone bodies that supply the energy required to run your body. Thus, if you plan your meals meticulously and keep the carbohydrate consumption extremely low, you can expect to lose weight quickly.

Here is a 3-Day Keto-Compliant Meal Plan

The upside of this diet is that the meals are not bland and are reasonably easy to prepare.

Keto Diet Day 1

Breakfast: Keto Pancakes and Stir-fried Broccoli

Break two eggs in a bowl and add 1/2 tablespoon of almond flour. Next, throw in 2 ounces of cream cheese and a pinch of salt to taste. Whisk the mixture until you get a smooth combination of pouring consistency. Heat butter in a pan and fry the pancakes one by one.

Cut a small head of broccoli into florets and wash them under running water—heat olive oil in a pan and throw in some chopped garlic. Once you get a pleasant aroma, add the broccoli florets and stir fry them for a minute or two. Sprinkle a bit of sea salt, and your breakfast is ready.

Note: If you prefer your pancakes a little sweeter, you can add a pinch of cinnamon or vanilla instead of salt in the pancake mixture and pair the cooked pancakes with fresh strawberries.

Snack: Assorted Nuts

You can have a handful of mixed nuts to prevent sudden hunger pains. Almondscashews, and pistachios are all keto-compliant nuts. You can dry roast them lightly to enhance the taste.

Lunch: Stir-fried Chicken and Veggies

Add one pound of minced chicken breast to heated oil in a pan. Chop some cabbages, peppers, and tomatoes and add them after 5 minutes. Keep tossing and add ginger and garlic paste after five more minutes. Turn off the heat and shred a little bit of cheese on top of the mixture. 

Dinner: Broccoli-Mushroom Salad with Diced Chicken

Cut one small broccoli and some button mushrooms into bite-sized pieces. Dice a quarter pound of chicken breast into cubes. Heat olive oil in a wok and toss in the chicken slices first. Once they are lightly fried, neatly move them to a bowl and add a dollop of butter to the pan. Cook the broccoli and the mushrooms for 1 minute and then add the cooked chicken. Add a few cloves of chopped garlic and toss for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and sprinkle oregano generously. Your dinner is ready.

Keto Diet Day 2

Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Turkey Bacon, and Grilled Brussel Sprouts

Break two large eggs, add a bit of salt and pepper. Whisk into a smooth solution. Chop half an onion and one tomato into small pieces and add them to the eggs. Heat a little butter in a pan, pour in the egg mixture and scramble with a spatula. When the eggs are half done, you can shred in some cheese for extra taste.

Grill two slices of turkey bacon.

Arrange some Brussels sprouts on a skewer and coat them with chopped garlic, crushed ginger, and olive oil. Grill each side for 5 minutes to a light golden color. Now, your delicious breakfast is ready!

Snack: Veggie Sticks Dipped in Peanut Butter

Cut carrots and celery into 3-inch sticks. Dip them in peanut butter for a quick and tasty snack.

Lunch: Collard Shrimp Wrap

Take a giant collard leaf and blanch it in salted water for 30 seconds. Coat 1 pound of shrimp with sea salt and pepper. Cut one tomato and one green bell pepper into small cubes. Heat oil and toss the tomatoes and the bell peppers first. After a minute, add the shrimp and toss everything for 1 minute. Add one spoonful of butter and some chopped garlic cloves and cook for another minute. Turn off the flame, and your filling is ready. Place it neatly within the collard, leave and roll it into a nice, savory wrap.

Dinner: Pork Chops

Sear bone-in pork chops on both sides for around 4 minutes in heated olive oil. Take butter in a bowl and mix it with rosemary and chopped garlic. Place the chops on a baking tray brushed with butter mixture and cook for 12-15 minutes at 375°F. Once done, drizzle more butter on the chops and enjoy your dinner.

Keto Diet Day 3

Breakfast: Fruit Smoothie and Smoked Sausages

If you prefer a predominantly sweet breakfast, you can go for a fruit smoothie that tastes excellent, filling, and has few carbohydrates. Add frozen strawberries, frozen raspberries, and frozen blackberries in a blender. Add almond or coconut milk to get a rich and creamy taste. Blend them. You can sprinkle some bits of almond and grated coconut on top to enhance the flavor.

Have two turkey sausages on the side for an even more satisfying breakfast.

Snack: Egg Muffins (Makes two servings)

Crack and whisk one egg. Add 3-5 chopped mushrooms to it. Crush a clove of garlic and add a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Mix well and pour into two muffin molds. You can add cheese or tomatoes as well for variety.

Lunch: Classic Egg Salad With A Twist

Take two hard-boiled eggs and crush them to form bite-sized pieces. Dice onion and avocado into small pieces. Next, wash a handful of cherry tomatoes. Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt. You can squeeze the juice of half a lemon into it, and your egg salad will be ready to eat.

Or, you can prepare a proper dressing by mixing two tablespoons of mayonnaise, two tablespoons of Greek yogurt, and a dash of olive oil. Gradually, fold the sauce into the egg mixture and end by sprinkling a little bit of kosher salt.

Dinner: Meatballs and Side Salad

Take 1/2 pound of ground beef and add chopped garlic, ginger, shredded mozzarella, and one egg. Mix well and form into five balls. Heat oil in a skillet and fry the meatballs to a rich golden color for around 10 minutes. Move the meatballs to a plate and add one chopped onion to the skillet and fry until golden brown. Add two chopped tomatoes and keep cooking until a sauce-like consistency is obtained. Throw in garlic paste and coconut milk and the broth will turn creamy. Add the meatballs and cover. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, and your dinner is ready.

So, take a deep breath and jump onto the Keto bandwagon. Starting is the hard part. Once you get started, the journey is smooth sailing! And, the weight loss and extra energy are fantastic!

Do you wish you had an EBook that included the tastiest Keto-friendly bread recipes?

Are you looking for additional support with your meal plans? Are you interested in learning what a 2-week meal plan on TRW would look like?

Do you wish you had an EBook that included the tastiest Keto- friendly bread recipes?

Are you looking for additional support with your meal plans? Are you interested in learning what a 2-week meal plan on TRW would look like?