Did you know that 2% of the bodyweight is of the brain? The brain is the master of our body, every part of the body is controlled by the brain. Like all the other organs, the brain also derives energy from the food we eat. The brain alone consumes 20% of the energy for it's working.
Often when we plan our diet or have food, we think only about our physique or our waistline ( c'mon, I know that's true). But is it only the physical body that is benefited from the food? What if I say that our mental health is also influenced by the food we intake (at least some of you will be astonished 😏).
What we eat can affect our emotions, our thoughts and our behaviour. A healthy and balanced diet is necessary for a happy mind.
So how does that happen?
1. Brain health is important.
The brain sees the working of the whole body. The production of Neurotransmitters, a chemical that is very important for communication within the body is influenced by the brain. If the water is sucked out from the brain, the brain is made of fats, proteins, micronutrients and glucose. If all this is not obtained, degeneration of the brain can be caused leading to cognitive decline, memory, attention, learning problems, Alzheimer's disease etc.
Proteins are made of amino acids, which are necessary for sleep, mood, production of serotonin and dopamine. Dopamine plays a key role in depression and schizophrenia.
Micronutrients like Zinc, Magnesium. Vitamin B, D3 is important in improving mood, mental capacity, relieving anxiety and reducing depression. So, including brain food is important for a healthy mind and a healthy body.
2. Anti-inflammatory food
Mental disorders can be caused by inflammation of brain cells. Anti-inflammatory food is important to avoid swelling and inflammation in the body parts.
Oxidants are molecules produced inside and outside the body that reacts with various body cells and cause cell damage and inflammation. Antioxidants counter this reaction and protect our brains.
4. The gut-brain connection
So many studies recently have found that there is a healthy connection between the gut and the brain. The good bacteria (probiotics) inside our intestines not only help in digestion but also produces neurotransmitters like serotonin, melatonin, and acetylcholine which are important in mental health. Probiotics are used in the treatment of mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism.
“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need”.
–Ayurvedic Proverb 🍎
Which are the foods promote better mental health?
Fatty fish contains omega 3 fatty acids, good fats which are crucial for the brain. Fishes like salmon, pollack, light tuna, cod and mackerel are healthy choices. But if you are not a fan of fish like me, then you can have avocados, flaxseeds, dark-leafy vegetables, soybean, fish oil capsules and other supplements. Omega 3 helps to prevent Alzheimer's causing beta-amyloid deposits.
Nuts and seeds are also a good source of omega 3 fatty acids. Walnut is the best choice for proteins and fats. They are very important for better cognition, mood, sleep and metabolism.
Pumpkin seeds are good antioxidants and contain nutrients like Magnesium, Zinc, Iron and Copper. It decreases depression, Alzheimer's disease, reduces brain fog and mental decline.
Brazil nuts are also very good at preventing and decreasing depression and anxiety because of their high Selenium content. Next time when you feel like having snacks, why not try nuts instead of oily chips? Nuts make a healthy snack!
Different spices and herbs are good for health. Turmeric is one of the best spices for our brain. They contain curcumin which is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory in nature. It is good for decreasing depression and alleviates your mood. Turmeric has varied benefits and it is also important for better memory. Indian curries are rich in spices and delicious too!😋
Yes, berries are rich with antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory. Flavonoids that give deep brilliant colours
to the berries, make it a rich source of antioxidants. Among the berries, blueberries are the best. They also help to prevent memory decline.
It is a great way for Vitamin K intake, which is an important micronutrient for brain cells. It protects the brain from damage and deterioration. Also to have a better memory. Vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage and green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, collards, lettuce etc. are also rich in Vitamin K.
Fruits and vegetables should be included in healthy meals. As many of you know, oranges are a good Vitamin C source. Vitamin C has a potential preventive and therapeutic effect on mental illness, such as major depressive disorder (MDD), schizophrenia, anxiety and Alzheimer's disease. Other options for Vitamin C are bell peppers, guava, kiwi, tomato and strawberries.
I know this is relieving!
Yes, dark chocolates are rich in flavonoids, caffeine and antioxidants. It helps in memory and learning. Chocolate is a mood booster and studies show that having chocolates daily can help you feel positive.
Caffeine in green tea is an excellent booster of alertness, performance, memory and focus. But green tea also contains an amino acid that relaxes you and decreases anxiety.
Tea or coffee a day is also a brain-healthy food. Some studies prove that people who take tea/coffee are more active and mentally energetic. But, avoid taking it post-evening as it interrupts sleep and frequent intake of tea/coffee can reverse the effects.
Yogurt contains probiotics which are good for the gut. It promotes the production of serotonin and reduces depression. Probiotics are also good for stress, anxiety and keep you relaxed. Bananas are also a good source of probiotics that activate friendly probiotic bacterias found in yogurt, traditional buttermilk, kefir and kombucha.
After having a plate of pasta, you might feel content!😌 It can be caused by the serotonin effect of carbs. It calms the mind, helps in mood, sleep-cycle and reduces stress. It is good for emotional health. Complex carbs like whole-grain pasta, legumes, brown rice, oats etc. are good for body and mind.
Beans and chicken
Proteins in chicken, beans, soy products, turkey, tuna etc. contain tryptophan which is good in improving mood. It also boosts alertness and can be good for depression and anxiety. But avoid the fat part of the meat.
Eggs are super healthy food. They contain Vitamin B 12, folate and choline. Choline is important in the production of a chemical which plays a key role in reducing stress and regulating mood. Eggs slow down mental decline and dementia too.
I know, you must be wildly smiling at this.😁
A glass of red wine can have wonderful benefits. It has a positive effect on depression and anxiety. It also helps to have a healthy heart. Studies show that a person who has red wine daily is younger than a person who doesn't. Yep, all true! But, the benefits will start to reduce if more than a glass of wine is taken.