We know that food we eat affects our body and how we look. Scientists say that what we eat takes a toll on our brain also. Brain food definitely matters especially for one’s grey matter.
A few chemicals in the brain prompt the immune system to fight stress through inflammation. Inflammation helps to protect against illnesses while also repairing one’s body. Inflammation has been linked to auto immune disorders like multiple sclerosis, anxiety, high blood pressure, etc.
Brain’s cognitive ability, understanding and processing new information, concentration, alertness, and memory functions are influenced by the gut hormones.
Foods that contain a high level of anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, good fats provide energy and helps in protection against any brain disease.
There are some foods that can help to improve one’s cognitive function, reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and also other disorders. A very efficient way to improve one’s mental health can be through the gut as the gut has its own nervous system that can send message to the brain.
There are 4 different kinds of food that help in different brain related functioning:
The brain derives all the energy from glucose
• Fatty Acids
It helps in strengthening the synapses in the brain that leads to better memory.
• Amino acids
Protein rich foods contain amino acids that are required for alertness, concentration, sleep, memory, mood and learning.
Tea and most of the vegetables contain anti – oxidants that help in regulating oxidative stress which can destroy certain brain cells.
Some foods are better for the brain than the others.
Here are some foods that are good for your mental health:
Avocados contain good monosaturated fats that can keep the skin glowing while also keeping the blood sugar levels steady. Avocados contain vitamin K and folate that prevent a blood clot in the brain and improve cognitive function, memory and concentration. Avocados have highest proteins and lowest sugar content than any other fruit.
They help to get rid of blood of toxins. Beets contain a nitrate that boosts blood flow to the brain helping one to cope up with mental performance.
It is known to be highest anti-oxidant rich fruit also inclusive of Vitamin C, K and fiber. Blueberries containing a high level of Gallic acid can protect the brain from degeneration and stress.
• Coconut Oil
Coconut oil helps one with memory loss that advances with age destroys the bad bacteria in one’s gut and has a lot of anti-inflammatory properties for the brain.
• Dark Chocolate
It is full of flavanols having anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that aids in lowering blood pressure while improving blood flow to the heart and the brain. Darker the chocolate the more healthy it is.
• Whole Grains
Brain gets energy from glucose present in carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates have an ability to release glucose slowly that makes one feel full for longer also provides a steady source of fuel for the brain. Whole wheat products, rice, oats, barley, beans and soy are healthy sources of carbohydrates.
• Leafy vegetables
Spinach, beets, turnip, mustard seeds, broccoli, beetroots, lentils, etc. are rich in folic acid. As per some studies deficiency in the intake of folic acid is linked with issues like depression, fatigue and insomnia.
Some fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, pickled vegetables contain healthy bacteria that are known to reduce anxiety.
There are some nutrition strategies if implemented can make one feel good. Here are a few tips:
• Regular timing
Eat at a regular interval. This ensures that a body has enough fuel and should assist one in keeping one’s mood stable.
• No skipping of meals
Skipping a meal makes one overeat the next meal. Bad mood can be averted if one can keep away from getting too hungry.
• Know what to avoid
Some sugar rich foods like soda, candies, jams, syrups can just spike up the sugar levels. They may satisfy one’s taste buds but they are not effective in keeping up a good mood.
All of us can make changes that would have a better impact on our health. One can easily increase intake of foods and vegetables and cut down on the intake of processed food.
It is rightly said “you are what you eat “ , Food is the fuel and the type food one eats and drinks that one consumes determines the impact of nutrition on one’s mind and body. Foods do play a vital role in its contribution towards the mind as well as the body. One can certainly improve brain health by eating the right kind of diet.
So while a healthy nutrition contributes to a good mental health, one must not undermine the tell-tale symptoms of minor mental issues. If someone is experiencing early signs of depression or anxiety disorders then food alone may not be the solution. One must talk to a trained therapist or a counsellor if one is struggling with symptoms of mental health disorders.
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