What’s that you say? Food to boost my mood? Yes, indeed, I am talking about food for your brain. Your brain and nervous system depend on good nutrition as a building block for cells and tissues. The better we eat, the better we feel and the better we function. The body requires more carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals than we sometimes realize. In fact, a healthy, well-balanced diet can help us think clearly and feel more alert. It can also improve concentration, attention span, as well as our mental health.
It’s important to remember that we aren’t born with a craving for French fries and pizza and an aversion to broccoli and carrots. We become conditioned to like certain foods the more we are exposed to them. Not surprisingly, the more fruits and vegetables we eat, the more we tend to enjoy and even crave them. I know you’re thinking I’m crazy for saying that, but if you start to eat healthier, your body will start to crave healthier foods. I’m not saying to go cold turkey, but make small and gradual changes. Trust me on this; you will be surprised how one day your brain will tap you on the shoulder and ask for an apple instead of that candy bar.
To boost your mental health, try to focus on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables along with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon. Dark green leafy vegetables are brain protective. Nuts, seeds, and legumes, such as beans and lentils, are also excellent brain foods.
Here are the top three foods to incorporate into a healthy mental diet:
- Complex carbohydrates such as brown rice and starchy vegetables can give you energy. Quinoa, millet, beets, and sweet potatoes have more nutritional value and will keep you satisfied longer than the simple carbohydrates found in sugar and candy.
- Lean proteins give you energy that allows your body to think and react quickly. Good sources of protein include chicken, meat, fish, eggs, soybeans, nuts, and seeds.
- Fatty acids are crucial for the proper function of your brain and nervous system. You can find them in fish, meat, eggs, nuts, and flaxseeds.
Healthy Eating Tips:
- Steer clear of processed snack foods, such as potato chips, which can impair your ability to concentrate. Pass up sugar-filled snacks, such as candy and soft drinks, which lead to dramatic shifts in energy levels.
- Consume plenty of healthy fats, such as olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil. This will support your brain function.
- Have a healthy snack when hunger strikes, such as fruit, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, baked sweet potatoes, or edamame. This will give you more energy than packaged products.
Good mental health is very important and sometimes can’t be managed alone. If you or a loved one is having issues or concerns with mental health, we urge you to speak with your physician or seek professional counseling.