Recipe for a Healthy Mind: 7 Foods to Improve Your Mental Health
Here’s a list of must have foods in your diet everyday for optimal brain function.
Brain is a very complex and busy organ. Even if you are sitting idle or asleep, it is continuously working and busy thinking, processing, storing, transmitting, receiving information and carrying out vital functions like breathing, regulating your heart beat, coordinating sensory and motor skills.
All of this certainly takes up a lot of energy but where does that energy come from?
The food we eat! And the kind of food can make all the difference.
The most important nutrients our brain needs are: omega 3, zinc, B vitamins (especially B12 and B9), Vitamin D, choline, zeutin, probiotics, magnesium, antioxidants, amino acids and iron.
Here’s a list of foods you should add in your diet everyday to get your brain buzzing!
Brain is a very fatty organ and it loves coconut oil for nourishment. The abundance of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) act like a fuel for brain, that feeds brain cells, increases blood circulation to the brain and provides all the good cholesterol the brain needs.
Nuts & Seeds
Walnuts are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids that help the brain build proper neural connections and create barriers that protect the nerves.
Turmeric acts as a nootropic (smart drug) to enhance brain function, is therapeutic in the supplemental form and protects your brain from premature ageing.
Curcumin, the active ingredient found in this wonder spice, is anti-inflammatory and kills free radicals.
Adaptogenic herbs - Bhrami & Ashwagandha
Adaptogen such as Brahmi and Ashwagandha are safe and effective as they work with the body and heal as per the body’s requirements.
Ashwagandha has memory boosting effects and is known to enhance mental stamina. Similarly, Bhrami significantly improves the cognitive ability, memory, sharpens thoughts and promotes calm and peaceful mood.
It was found that Bhrami has the capacity to reduce beta amyloid deposits in mice with Alzheimer’s disease. Taken regularly, Brahmi can drastically reduce the chances of developing brain related disorders.
The most unprocessed and raw form of chocolate, cacao, is a storehouse of ‘bliss molecule’ anandamide, ‘love compound’ phenylethylamine, ‘happy molecule’ serotonin and amino acid tryptophan which is a serotonin precursor.
It contains flavonols that improve blood flow and improve attention span, loaded with antioxidants that act as free radical scavengers and is packed with magnesium, a mineral needed for over 300 metabolic functions, including the formation of serotonin.
Low magnesium is linked to anxiety, ADHD, bipolar disorder, panic attacks and schizophrenia.
Fermented foods like rice kanji, kimchi, yogurt, apple cider vinegar help maintain the balance between good and bad gut bacteria which is essential for good mental health. It also helps produce Vitamin B12, which is crucial for nerve health.
Don’t underestimate the power of banana. It’s loaded with B-complex vitamins, especially B6 and magnesium that soothes the nervous system.
It also contains high levels of tryptophan that converts into serotonin, so you are actually just a bite away from good mood!
While eating the right foods help build strong mental health, sometimes not eating and embracing a fast for specific periods of time is also of great value. It helps clean up the body of all toxins.
A clean body has a direct relationship with a clean mind.
Fasting experts notice themselves meditating better, thinking clear, staying more positive and the feeling of uneasiness or restlessness fades away.
So, the key to building a sound mind and body is to eat the right foods at the right time!
(Luke Coutinho is M.D. Alternative Medicine (Integrative & Lifestyle) & Holistic Nutritionist. Luke treats patients with disease and specializes in cancer with a holistic and integrative approach worldwide.)
(For more stories on mental health, follow FIT)
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