The food you eat affects more than just your physical health- it also influences how you feel. Best diets for mental health are just as important as food for physical health.
One of the most significant factors in maintaining high energy levels is a healthy, balanced diet. By taking steps to consume more mood-boosting foods, you can improve your emotional wellbeing.
Everyone feels low sometimes, but how much of it is down to dietary choices rather than simply bad luck?
Diets low in protein can cause mood swings and depression. Taking too much sugar or caffeine is associated with anxiety. So maintaining a healthy diet could have significant implications for mental wellness as well!
Moreover, nutritional deficiencies contribute to anxiety or depression, just as overeating junk food can cause people who may already be depressed to feel worse in many ways.
The good news is that it’s possible for anyone – no matter their situation -to find relief from mental suffering with some self-care techniques like mindful meditation and nutrition. They don’t need to rely on medications when we can have natural mood boosters.
Research is continuing to show that what you eat has a significant impact on your overall health. Studies have shown that eating the right foods can also protect mental health… and may even prevent depression and memory loss. Some sources say that as much as 80% of all cases of mental illness can be attributed to dietary choices.
This article will explore different types of foods that can help your brain stay healthy and happy.
Here are 7 scientifically proven best diets for mental health.
Protein-Rich Foods can Treat Depression
Protein is essential to building muscle mass and maintaining cell metabolism. Individuals with low protein intakes have been shown to be at risk for depression.
Protein is also necessary for making the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which help to regulate mood.
Protein-Rich Best Diets for Mental Health
- The best source of protein that naturally alleviates depression is found in fish. Some research indicates that tuna consumption can reduce symptoms by as much as half after three months.
- Chicken and other poultry are also good protein sources. Turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid that aids in serotonin production.
- Eggs have a high level of omega-3 fatty acids which promote better cognitive function, whilst reducing inflammation and stress levels throughout the body.
- Beans, nuts (almonds/peanuts), seeds (sesame/sunflower) are all rich in protein and low in fat (including saturated fat). These foods help to stabilize blood sugar levels. Making it a good choice for people with diabetes.
- Foods high in B Vitamins such as salmon or whole grains contain folate. This vitamin helps the brain produce serotonin and aids its flow. The right amount of folate a day can significantly elevate your mood.
Omega-3 fish Oil Supplements Can Decrease Anxiety
Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain, particularly in the gray matter of the cerebral cortex and hippocampus.
Omega-3s can quickly move through the brain cell membrane and interact with mood-related molecules inside the brain. They also have anti-inflammatory effects that may help relieve depression.
Consequently, they help regulate our stress response and protect us from depression (e.g., bipolar disorder).
Supplementation with omega-3 is now recommended for patients suffering from GAD or SAD. Those taking anti-depressants should also take omega-3s to reduce side effects from drugs like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Many psychiatrists specializing in alternative treatments recommend 1 gram of EPA + DHA daily for individuals suffering from depression.
A healthcare practitioner may recommend doses of 2-4 grams in healthy individuals to decrease anxiety, improve cognition and boost mood.
Omega-3 fatty Acids Rich Food for Mental Health
You can find Omega-3 fatty acids in oils from plants and animals. You can spray or drizzle them on foods such as salad dressings, yogurt, or mixed into smoothies.
High sources of Omega-3s can are salmon, walnuts, kale, legumes, and soybeans. You can also take Omega-3s as supplements in the form of fish oils or flaxseed oil.
Antioxidant Foods are Good for Your Mental Health
Foods containing antioxidants (e.g., berries) help lower oxidative damage on the brain to improve moods. They also protect against neurodegeneration that occurs with age.
Furthermore, they neutralize free radicals, which are said to contribute to neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Two antioxidants found in fruits that help prevent these diseases are vitamin E and C.
Vitamin E Rich Best Diets for Mental Health
- Blueberries and grapes
- Kiwi Fruit
- Wheat germ oil
- Sunflower, safflower, and soybean oil
- Sunflower seeds
- Peanuts, peanut butter
- Beet greens, collard greens, spinach
- Red bell pepper
Vitamin C is known to be effective in treating clinical depression and preventing mood disorders. It also helps the body absorb iron better, which may curb fatigue.
Foods high in vitamin E include tomatoes, avocados, nuts (almonds), seeds (sunflower), spinach, and olives. They help lower stress levels by activating alpha wave activity in the brain. They can also reduce sleep problems and boost memory function.
Vitamin E is essential because it protects mitochondria (the tiny batteries within cells that produce most of the energy in our bodies) from being damaged by free radicals.
Mitochondrial dysfunction and mitochondrial DNA mutations are now known to play a role in many neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Numerous studies have confirmed that taking vitamin E or eating foods rich in this compound can help prevent these diseases. It also helps in many other age-related problems like heart disease and arthritis.
For example, one study found that people with low levels of vitamin E had an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
More recent research suggests that adding vitamin E supplements may help slow down the progression of cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s disease.
Foods Rich in Magnesium are Good for Tired or Hyper Moods
Magnesium is another of the body’s natural relaxants and may prove to be the best diets for mental health. It helps in fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, which may play a role in alleviating depression. It also supports the production of serotonin and dopamine.
When these two chemicals work together, they produce an effect called enterohepatic recirculation. It plays a significant role in relaxing your bowels. This, in turn, stimulates GABA release – a neurotransmitter that can reduce anxiety levels and ward off depression.
If you suffer from depression, taking magnesium may be helpful. According to one study, this mineral eases “suicidal ideation” by over 50 percent after just three weeks. That is especially important if your serotonin levels are low or GABA isn’t working correctly.
Magnesium-Rich Best Diets for Mental Health
- sweet potatoes,
- hemp seeds,
- whole grains,
- leafy greens
- dark chocolate.
Salmon May Help Alleviate Depression or Anxiety
Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help prevent the breakdown of serotonin (your “feel good” chemical) and dopamine..
Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids are raw oysters; anchovies; sardines; tuna (fresh, canned in water, not oil); mackerel; and trout.
However, choose only wild-caught salmon and sardines as farmed fish can have dangerously high levels of mercury.
Potassium-Rich Foods to Alleviate Mood Disorders
Potassium is essential for maintaining a healthy balance of sodium and water in the body. It is an electrolyte that helps regulate your heartbeat, control blood pressure and muscle contractions, and transmit nerve signals.
Potassium deficiency may trigger anxiety, insomnia, irritability, depression. Include foods that are rich in potassium, such as:
- citrus fruits,
- whole grains
- prunes, raisins, and dates
- Cooked spinach
- Cooked broccoli
- Sweet potatoes
- Leafy Greens
Try to soak up more potassium by drinking plenty of water.
Chamomile Tea for Improved Mood
Chamomile tea is well known to be a powerful relaxant that helps ease tension and anxiety disorders associated with depression.
Research has demonstrated its effectiveness when given daily over two months in reducing anxiety.
Drinking chamomile tea can relax you, calm your nerves and lower your stress levels. It effectively reduces the amount of cortisol (the “stress hormone”) in the body.
Drinking chamomile tea regularly may lower blood sugar levels and help control insulin sensitivity – a factor that can trigger depression.
The Bottom Line
A healthy diet plays a vital role in promoting a healthy state of mind and mood while ensuring that your brain is functioning at its best every day!
Adding the best diets for mental health to your diet may help alleviate depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.
But if you’re eating well and still suffering from a bad mood, see your doctor or integrative health care provider who can help determine the cause of your symptoms.
Avoid Sugar as much as you can. Lack of proper nutrition is a contributing factor in depression if you have diabetes type 2 insulin resistance syndrome.
Eating the right foods can help alleviate the symptoms and promote a positive state of mind. So don’t go on another day without taking care of yourself!
I hope you loved reading this article as much as we loved writing it.
Do you have any special food for your mood that always helps you tackle down your stress levels? Do tell us in the comments below.
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