Most of us don’t consider the important relationship between what we eat and the way our minds function. The truth is, your diet plays an integral role in your mental clarity, your ability to deal with stress, and your emotional wellbeing. Foods that are high in sugar and/or refined ingredients increase inflammation throughout your brain and body – putting you at a greater risk for mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
The trouble with this is that many of us seek comfort from unhealthy and processed foods, both sweet and savoury. This tendency to “comfort-eat” is often what perpetuates the cycle of poor mental and physical health.
Dark Leafy Greens
Leafy green vegetables such as swiss chard, kale, and rocket are packed with essential micronutrients that have a myriad of health benefits. They generally contain high volumes of vitamins A, C, and K as well as healthy minerals and amino acids. Studies have shown that those who eat leafy greens regularly experience a slower decline in cognitive function as they age.
Eating at least one serving of raw leafy green veggies per day provides you with a healthy, low-calorie source of fibre and nutrients that will keep you sharp and healthy well into your later years.
Like leafy green vegetables, fish contains nutrients that slow the natural process of cognitive decline due to age. It has also been praised as a preventative tool for depression. These remarkable traits are largely due to the high content of omega-3 fatty acids present in many fish species.
Like any food eaten for its health benefits, make sure you’re eating the right variety for your dietary goals. Avoid deep-fried and battered fish, opting instead for grilled or lightly fried servings of mackerel or salmon. Fish is also a healthy source of protein and other micronutrients like iodine and vitamin D.
Beans are a popular source of several important nutrients – particularly for vegans and vegetarians who use them for their high plant protein contents. They are also an excellent source of vitamin B – which is solely responsible for a myriad of vital bodily and mental functions.
Between their high folate (a specific B-vitamin) content and their ability to stabilize and sustain healthy blood sugar levels, beans play an indispensable role in maintaining a stable mood and a clear mind.
Seeds (chia and flaxseed in particular) are a fantastic alternative source of omega-3 fatty acids for those who do not eat fish. Just a few teaspoons of either one of these nutrient-rich seeds provides more than half of your recommended daily intake of omega-3.
Pumpkin and squash seeds contain high volumes of a certain amino acid known as tryptophan – which is beneficial in the formation of serotonin (a neurotransmitter that is partially responsible for maintaining a stable and happy mood).
Adding seeds to your salads and smoothies is an easy and effective method for enhancing both your mood and your mental clarity. You can also snack on seeds by the handful while you win big at Bet Big Dollarorenjoy other activities. Plus, you can dry-roast them in a pan for extra flavour!