Evidence supports that nutrition is not only essential for our physical well-being, but also for our mental well-being. Recent research shows that several mental health conditions are influenced by our food intake. While this doesn’t outweigh the importance of keeping your body physically active and exercising your mind with brain-stimulating activities; rather, the implication is that it is a combination of these factors—like pieces of a puzzle—are necessary for a healthy brain.
The study indicates that about two-thirds of people who do not report mental health problems have diets that include fresh fruits and vegetables daily. Those who report some level of mental health problems appear to have diets higher in processed foods (“junk foods” such as chips, sweets, instant meals, fast food).
With that knowledge in mind, here are some tasty foods to integrate into your diet for a stronger, healthier mind:
Blueberries: Researchers have found that blueberries help protect the brain in many ways:
– Helps to reduce stress hormone levels
– Reduced likelihood of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
– Improved learning capabilities
– Improved motor skills
TIP: A cup of fresh blueberries (when in season) are a tasty way to improve your health!
Avocados: Many dieters tend to stay away from avocados due to their high fat content. While it’s true that avocados are high in fat, it’s mostly a healthier monounsaturated fat, which can help improve blood flow, lower your risk of heart disease and help lower high cholesterol! Any foods that improve your circulation can also contribute to a healthy brain.
TIP: Since avocados are high in calories, having just 1/4 to 1/2 of an avocado daily is recommended.
Pomegranate: Pomegranates are high in potent antioxidants that protect the brain from free radicals. Free radicals accumulate with age and can cause damage to cells, proteins, and DNA, causing irreversible damage to cells in the body.
TIP: Pomegranates are also high in sugar, meaning that they’re better in small quantities!
Unsalted Nuts & Seeds: A good source of vitamin E, which is one of the most efficient antioxidants available. This again helps to reduce the number of free radicals in your body to preserve your health!
TIP: Aim for an ounce of unsalted nuts/seeds every day such as walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, or flax seeds.
Green Tea: We’re not talking about bottled or flavoured teas filled with sugar, aim for a quality organic green tea as studies have been shown that certain compounds in the tea can help prevent cognitive dysfunction, improve memory and decrease negative changes in the brain.
TIP: Avoid any caffeinated drinks in the evening to help improve your quality of sleep.
Dark Chocolate: I can already hear you complaining that dark chocolate doesn’t taste as good as milk chocolate, but the health benefits are worth the switch! Dark chocolate gives you all the perks of cocoa, such as ‘flavanols’ which are antioxidants that also help reduce inflammation and blood pressure. Dark chocolate contains much higher amounts of cocoa without the high sugar and extreme processing that comes with most milk chocolate bars, making it a great choice for your brain!
TIP: A small piece of 70% or higher dark chocolate can stop a sugar craving without the unhealthiness of most sweets.
A balanced diet combined with regular exercise is a great step forward to maintaining your physical and mental health. If you have any questions about how to improve your health or are interested in taking your health to the next level in a non-invasive and natural way, contact us today to see how we can help!