Food is the fuel that keeps our body moving up and about every day. It also gives our brain the energy to think and make decisions. Therefore, we need to be very mindful of what we eat if we want to be healthy in both body and mind.
During your next visit to your counselor, you might want to ask for natural food recommendations from them. Counselors are not just specialized in talking with you; they are also very familiar with other methods that can help improve your mental health. This includes even our daily meals.
The Relationship Of Food And Mental Health
A person’s diet is not just about physical health. Recent research suggests that diet plays an important role in a person’s mental health as well. The involvement of diet in counseling and therapy is more commonly known as nutritional psychiatry.
Eating is already connected to our mental state because of the pleasure we get from it. When we eat and get full, our body reacts by releasing dopamine for our brain. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure and euphoria. That is why most people find pleasure in overeating. The good thing is, we don’t have to overeat our way into happiness. Below are natural foods your counselor is likely to recommend to help improve your mental health.
Boost Your Mood And Help With Depression
The protein in eggs contains tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid involved in the creation of proteins. It is mainly used by the body to produce melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin helps maintain a good sleep cycle, while serotonin is a hormone that stabilizes our mood and happiness.
- Whole Grains
Carbohydrates are known to promote serotonin production. But is it enough to go and get any carb out there? Your counselor would most likely suggest you getting whole grains as a carb source. Aside from its tryptophan content, whole grains give you a fuller feeling which lasts longer than simple carbohydrates. Whole grains are great against hunger pangs. Brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and quinoa are examples of this food.
It might look very intimidating to prepare, but push yourself into exploring the many benefits of the pineapple. Known for the serotonin boost it gives, this sweet tropical fruit isn’t just there to refresh our taste buds. It’s also loaded with lots of vitamins and nutrients. Filled with vitamin C, pineapples help collagen formation, strengthen our immune system, and absorb iron. It is also a fantastic source of bromelain, good for osteoarthritis, cardiovascular diseases, among other diseases.
Keep Anxiety At Bay
If you are having trouble with anxiety and keeping your stress levels low, your counselor may recommend that you include berries in your diet. A lowered total antioxidant state is somewhat being correlated with anxiety. Packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, these little fruits help combat stress. The antioxidants found in berries are also helpful in reducing the risks of heart diseases and certain cancers.
A relative of ginger, turmeric, is usually found in its ground, powdered form. This bright yellow powder can be used as a spice in cooking, or you can create turmeric tea by dissolving it directly in hot water. Turmeric contains Curcumin, a bioactive compound that possesses anti-inflammatory qualities. Curcumin is also linked to producing serotonin and dopamine levels. Hence, it is highly suggested by counselors in controlling anxiety and depression.
- Chamomile Tea
Last on this list is the well-known tea for calming and relaxation. Chamomile, an herb with a daisy-like flower, is an Asian plant famous for its calm-inducing properties. It contains apigenin, an antioxidant that promotes sleepiness and helps against insomnia. If you are experiencing anxiety attacks in the middle of the day, try brewing a cup of chamomile tea. It also helps with upset stomach and inflammation; it’s good to have this around the house or in your office. Also, chamomile contains no caffeine at all. So if you are trying to avoid, or reduce, caffeine intake, chamomile tea is highly recommended as an alternative.
If you are having trouble focusing at school or work, there are certain foods your counselor can suggest to help you keep a sharp mind. Fatty fish are booming with omega-3 fatty acids. Mostly looked up for its benefit to heart health, omega-3 is also found to be very helpful in studying and keeping focus. The brain uses Omega-3 in creating nerve cells and maintaining normal brain function, which is related to learning and memory. Fatty fish includes salmon, sardine, and cod. Having two to three meals a week of fatty fish can keep a healthy brain in the long run.
- Leafy Greens
It is no secret that eating leafy greens is a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. What some might not know is that leafy greens also contain flavonoids. Flavonoids are plant metabolites that are thought to promote good memory, learning, and cognitive function. Leafy greens that contain the most amount of flavonoids are kale, parsley, and lettuce. Aside from mental boosts, flavonoids are also linked to protecting against certain cancers due to their antioxidant activity.
Last on this series of natural foods for mental health are avocados. These contain higher amounts of potassium than bananas. And they also help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. But one particular component found in avocados is also beneficial for mental focus, and that is lutein. Lutein is a very important compound used by our brains, and multiple studies have linked a lutein-rich brain to good memory, learning, language, and executive functions. Although still in its preliminary studies, grabbing an avocado while on your study break still is a great alternative to processed snacks.
You might think that the food you eat would not impact your mental health. However, if you note what each food item can do for you and your body, you’ll know that food benefits us in many different ways. You’ll also know which foods to avoid to keep healthy. Please note the food items and their functions that we discussed, stay away from food that’s not good for you, and stay healthy!