5 best foods to improve your mental health
Prevent burnout and improve your mental health with these 5 superfoods.
If you're feeling burned out these days, you're not alone. Burnout is faced by three-fifths of the world, and is a physical and mental condition marked by detachment, alienation, cynicism, and fatigue. Essentially, burnout is your brain’s response to stress, which has undoubtedly been exacerbated by the pandemic.
The good news is that you can help fight burnout and improve mental health, and one of the best ways to start is with dietary changes. One study found that although lower-carb diets have become popular here in the UK, many people still eat too many sweets and not enough fruits — habits that could definitely be improved for better brain health.
Here are five superfoods to add to your diet for holistic wellness:
1. Oily fish
Compared to beef or pork, fish is always a healthy option. Sardines, salmon, mackerel, trout, tuna, and herring are filled with omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve memory and boost feelings of wellness. For optimal mental health, it’s good to eat a portion or two of fatty fish every week. Salmon, in particular, is easy to prepare; you can simply fry it in a non-stick frying pan with butter for three minutes. Seaweed or algae supplements are also excellent sources of omega-3 if you're looking for vegetarian options.
Did you know that berries can also improve symptoms of anxiety and depression? Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are important sources of antioxidants, which can repair the cells and combat inflammation caused by free radicals like pollutants and sun damage. Some berries also contain polyphenols, which are compounds that improve memory, concentration, attention span, and energy levels. Add berries to your diet by snacking on them or preparing a delicious smoothie with fresh berries, yoghurt, and a trusty blender.
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3. Whole grains
Whole grains are crucial sources of B vitamins—nutrients in charge of brain health. Vitamin B1 helps turn glucose into energy and vitamin B6 converts amino acid tryptophan into serotonin. Most importantly, vitamin B12 plays a role in the production of “happy chemicals” like serotonin and dopamine. Altogether, the B vitamins in carbs help regulate moods, relax the brain, and make sure we get a good night’s sleep. There are so many delightful, healthy options for carbs: barley, brown rice, buckwheat, oats, and quinoa. And thanks to modern rice cookers, whole grains are easy to prepare—whether you’re looking to start your day with some porridge or pair your fatty fish with some brown rice.
4. Beans and legumes
Beans and legumes are ingredients we often overlook in our recipes. However, chickpeas, lentils, and kidney beans can help keep blood sugar stable and burn energy efficiently—which are critical factors in mental health. Introduce them into your diet gradually and with variety. You can put beans into your salad or add them into your stockpot for a more filling stew.
5. Leafy greens
Daily servings of leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, and spinach are associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline, thanks to the high levels of folic acid they provide the brain. Adequate folate levels can mitigate depression, stave off insomnia, and regulate mood neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Leafy greens work well as an ingredient in soups, omelettes, and pastas. If you’re feeling more creative, you can even toss them into a wok for a delicious stir-fry. Of course, not everyone has the time and energy to prepare healthy meals every day. Increase nutrients in your body and boost brain performance with the Smart Supplement, guaranteed to support your brain to combat burnout and other mental health issues.
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