Food for many people is an escape from their daily worries and troubles as they make mealtime something they can enjoy with or without the company of others. It is also at the very center of some of the most important events and holidays across the world, making food an integral part of relationships and the soul. However, what if I told you that the nutrients you ingest can influence your mental health? While I’m not going to list any magical cures that will solve any mental health battles you may be facing, these foods could be something you incorporate into your daily routine that may make a difference for the better.
- Spinach and Other Dark Leafy Greens
Spinach as well as other dark leafy greens like kale are great for brain health and studies have shown that they have a positive association with slowing cognitive decline. There have been numerous researchers who have backed up these claims and many doctors suggest these foods as part of their patient’s daily diets as a result. Furthermore, Dr. Maxine Barish-Wreden of the Sutter Health Foundation, suggests that implementing these dark leafy greens into an already healthy diet can do wonders for stress and depression. She claims that “studies have shown a reduction in depression of 40 to 60 percent when people are eating the right foods” without all of the side effects many prescription drugs come with.
- Polyunsaturated Fats!
Polyunsaturated fats, PUFAs for short, are immensely beneficial when taken in moderation. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are the main components of PUFAs. The list of foods that contain these fatty acids is extensive but the most popular are fatty fishes like salmon and herring as well as plant based oils like safflower oil and grapeseed oil. While the list of benefits for PUFAs also includes slowing mental decline and improving heart health, the most relevant effect is its positive impact on neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is the process by which stem cells in the brain create neurons, and studies have shown that neurogenesis in the hippocampus improves mood and cognition. Therefore, these foods that help aid in brain health and neurogenesis can potentially help you along your mental health journey.
- Turmeric (Curcumin)
Next on the list is a spice widely used in Asia, Turmeric! This spice is known for its earthy, bitter, and peppery taste which can be seen in curries, soups, meat rubs, and everything in between. Turmeric has recently gained traction as a great addition to a healthy diet as studies have shown that it can help prevent arthritis and has shown promise when treating Parkinson’s disease. However, the key active ingredient within turmeric, Curcumin, also has that fancy effect on neurogenesis that I talked about earlier.
All in all these 3 foods/nutrients are great for promoting healthy brain functions which can only help in the case of mental health. However, please consult your physician if you plan on incorporating more of these foods in your diet to make sure it’s right for your body. Everyone is different and these may have little to no effect on your daily lives, but I thought I’d share some easy foods to add to your diet that could potentially help you all along your unique journeys.