One of the most important things we can do for our mental health is improve our diets. Here are 8 of some of the best foods to help us have optimal brain function!
All berries are great for your health period. Blueberries specifically contain high levels of vitamin c and polyphenols. These compounds act as antioxidants, helping protect the brain from free radical damage and promoting proper brain functioning, especially during periods of stress.
Yes Oysters! They are a great source of zinc, which plays a key role in daily brain functioning. It helps with attention, clarity and behavior. They also contain 3 other nutrients that aid in brain health – selenium, B12, and omega 3 fatty acids.
3. Fermented Foods
More an more research is finding just how important gut health is to brain health. Our brains are directly connected to our guts through something called a vagus nerve. Healthy bacteria found there and in the gut directly affecting the brain. Certain food have probiotics which help create a diverse and healthy population of microbes(gut bacteria). Some fermented foods include: Kimchi, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and tamari. Studies have shown probiotic rich foods significantly reduce depressive symptoms.
Salmon is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which are key to brain health. It also contains high levels of Vitamin D, which many people are deficient in. Lower levels of vitamin D have been associated with depression.
5. Leafy Greens
We all know how important leafy greens are in our diet. Based on their high nutrient content, they are a top food when it comes to fighting depression. Leafy greens include spinach, collards, kale, cabbage and watercress. It is recommended to eat a serving of leafy greens daily.
Walnuts are also a great source of Omega 3’s, as well as antioxidants and vitamin E. Studies have shown that people who regulary eat walnuts have a significantly reduced risk of depression.
7. Lean Proteins
Protein is just all about muscles! It is a key ingredient in the functioning of our brain. Low levels of B12, mostly found in animal sources, have been linked to depression. Choose lean sources of protein such as fish, poultry, eggs and low fat dairy. Proteins such as beans, tuna and turkey also contain the amino acid tryptophan, which is a precursor to serotonin, an important brain chemical involved in depression.
A healthy digestive track is linked to a healthy brain. Which means eating a diet high in fiber definitely helps with depression. They also help to reduce inflammation, which plays a key role in depression. Research suggests that depression develops as a result of inflammation in the brain. All beans from black beans to kidney beans and chickpeas, are good sources of fiber.
Basically, eat healthy, exercise and practice regular self-care. Stay away from sugar as much as you can.There is no one cure for depression, but a combination of different modalities will have you on your way to being symptom free. Never forget the importance of diet, and the affect foods have on our body.