Although the impact of food on mental wellness may not be as apparent as it is on physical health, there is a significant link between what a person eats and how they feel. Of course it’s not realistic to expect someone in a depressive state to completely overhaul their eating habits.
After all, when someone is struggling with depression, it can be hard to even get out of bed some days, and let alone make healthy food choices. Similarly, eating these foods in the middle of an anxiety attack isn’t going to provide instant relief.
However, making minor dietary adjustments, they help to alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Regardless of your dietary preferences, there are plenty of foods to choose from, each with various nutrients that can provide mood boosting benefits.
Here are some of the best ones to include in your diet.
Nuts in general, are packed with monounsaturated fats and protein and although, that means they provide excellent benefits, it’s best to consume them in moderation because they’re also high in calories.
That said, of all the nuts to choose from, walnuts are the best option for alleviating depression symptoms because they’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids, especially for a plant-based food. They have been shown to support proper brain function.
2. Fermented Foods
Researchers are finding that gut bacteria and the development of mental issues, such as depression are complexly intertwined. This is what’s known as the gut-brain connection.
The probiotics and fermented foods such as plain yogurt, kombucha, and sauerkraut restore and rebalance the gut microbiome, thereby supporting the production of mood enhancing neurotransmitters.
3. Cherry Tomatoes
Lycopene is an antioxidant found in the skin of tomatoes that fights depression and mood swings. Taking a stroll through the produce section of your grocery store could be overwhelming with the number of tomato varieties to choose from, but cherry tomatoes are the best option because they provide the highest skin-to-tomato ratio.
They’re also super portable and palpable. So they make a nutritious and convenient grab-and-go snack
4. Leafy Greens
Inflammation in the brain can lead to depression, but leafy greens include natural anti-inflammatories that can help prevent this. They are some of the most nutrient dense foods available packed with abundant amounts and varieties of vitamins and minerals unrivaled by other foods.
Turns out having been forced to eat your veggies as a kid wasn’t just a torture mechanism. They really are planty powerhouses that strengthen the body in many different ways including mentally.
An apple a day keeps depression away and anxiety too. Not only are they good for your overall well-being, but more specifically, this fruity favorite is an excellent source of soluble fiber, that helps maintain blood sugar levels and stabilize mood as a result.
Most people would agree that apples are more palatable than something like spinach. However, just like leafy greens, they too. Can be beneficial in fighting inflammation in the brain, thanks to the antioxidants that help hinder damage at the cellular level.
Beans are full of fiber, protein and many other beneficial nutrients such as B vitamins and these vitamins help increase neurotransmitter levels regulating mood. They’re also a crucial part of the nerve signaling process that assists in communication between nerve cells.
Ever wonder what gives berries their colorful appearance? Anthocyanidins are the plant pigments behind a different red, purple and blue hues, depending on pH levels.
They inhibit the release of cortisol, more commonly known as the stress hormone. Thus making you feel calmer. Berries are well-known source of antioxidants, strengthening the immune system and fighting free radicals. and by boosting brain and cognitive functioning. They can also help when you’re feeling down.
Oats are commonly known for the cholesterol-lowering abilities but they have many other advantages. Since they have a low glycemic index, they deliver sustained energy to the bloodstream during digestion, stabilizing blood sugar levels and mood.
While oatmeal may not be as tasty as some other breakfast options, like, sugary cereals or donuts, it won’t cause a sugar high subsequent crash. On top of that, they also contain Selenium, another powerful mood-stabilizing nutrient.
People either love or hate them before. Before hating mushrooms though, consider the two ways that they contribute to improve mental health.
First, they help with blood sugar and Insulin regulation, fostering more stable moods.
Second, they act as prebiotics that encourage the production of beneficial gut bacteria, kicking you into happy high gear, since 80-90% of Serotonin is produced by nerve cells in the gut.
Avocados are high in fat, but they’re healthy fats that impact mental wellness in several ways. They’re packed with nutrients, and they’re often included in many wholesome diets. One of their superpowers includes treating and preventing depression.
Like walnuts, they’re a great plant-based source of Omega-3s as well as the oleic acid, both of which plays a significant role in proper brain functioning.
11. Dark Chocolate
It turns out that dark chocolate also contains probiotics which are great for your gut and brain. It’s also high in antioxidants that combat oxidative stress in the brain and as a result reduced mental stress.
Furthermore, dark chocolate contains magnesium, which protects against inflammation, increases blood flow in the brain, improves cognitive function and reduces anxiety.
12. Pumpkin Seeds
Whether or not it’s currently pumpkin season, you can buy the seeds themselves; roasted, toasted or raw. They contain the amino acid called tryptophan that promotes the production of serotonin in the brain.
While you sometimes have to be careful of food drug interactions, that’s not the case with pumpkin seeds. If you’re currently taking an antidepressant, these powerful little seeds may actually increase your medications efficacy.
While no food will miraculously cure depression, adopting a healthier diet rich in these foods can certainly help improve your overall mental well-being.
Are you eating enough of these foods? Which one is your favorite?