Nutrition and Mental Health
Our diets play an important role in our mental health and well-being. Our brains are constantly working, taking care of our thoughts, movements, breathing, and heartbeat. All this work requires a constant supply of fuel. This fuel comes from the foods that we eat, which ultimately, affect our brain as well as our mood.
Consuming foods that contain a lot of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants will nourish the brain and protect it from stress. Diets that are high in refined sugars or processed foods can be harmful to the brain. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables along with foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids can boost your mental health. According to Mental Health America, the following nutrients help boost our bodies as well as our mental health.
Folate (Folic Acid and Vitamin B-9)
Folic acid is important for red blood cell production, healthy hair, skin, nails, and liver. According to Science Daily, some studies have shown that increasing our intake of folate lowers the risk of depression. Some examples of foods that contain folate are:
- Dark green leafy vegetables like Spinach and Kale
- Whole grains
Vitamin D is important for the health of our muscles and immune system. It also helps our bodies absorb calcium for strong teeth and bones. Those with a vitamin D deficiency have shown to have a higher rate of depression than those who have adequate levels of vitamin D. A lack of vitamin D is also said to play a role in Seasonal Affective Disorder. Listed below are ways to increase our vitamin D:
- Fatty fish like salmon and tuna
- Vitamin D supplements
- Five to thirty minutes of sun exposure twice a week
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids can improve our heart health as well as reduce inflammation. Some studies have shown that increasing omega-3s can be helpful in the treatment of depression and have a mood-stabilizing effect. Some examples of foods that contain omega-3s are:
- Oily fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines
- Olive Oil
- Fresh basil
- Dark green leafy vegetables
If you think you may need professional help with your mental health, visit your primary care physician or find one at Comanche County Memorial Hospital.
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