There is so much can be done through good food choices plus there is further research being done to get more information on this topic. It is kind of obvious that your body & brain are interconnected, so it makes sense that what you eat can & will impact your brain.
Anxiety will impact pretty much everyone at some stage in their lives, no one is immune to that. Lifestyle can also have a huge impact, but I want to focus on the food angle. Diets high in fruit & vegetables, whole grains & lean proteins are great for anxiety. That is pretty general round up of info – so here are some items you may wish to include on a more regular basis.
Omega 3 is a fatty acid that has a strong impact on cognitive function, which means it is great for mental health too. THINK salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout or herring. The current recommendation is at least 2 serves of fatty fish a week. It is worth noting that salmon & sardines also contain vitamin D.
The best option is to spend time in the sun. Vitamin D is sometimes referred to as the sunshine vitamin, however changes in lifestyle have seen a drastic increase in the amount of people globally who are vitamin D deficient. So, some dietary options. Do you like mushrooms? You can increase vitamin D in your mushrooms, by placing them gills up in the sun for approx. 10-15min. Pretty cool right?! Alternatively add in liver to your diet – I know a lot of you will not be keen on that idea, so here is an option. Add a teaspoonful of pate into your spag bog sauce or meatballs – easy peasey & the fussy eaters will never know. If you still can’t bear to add any of those into your diet, often a lot of foods are fortified with vitamin D, so check out your choice of dairy products & cereals.
These are powerhouses of nutrition. They are rich in vitamin D & a high quality complete protein (that means they have all the essential amino acids). One of the amino acids they contain is tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin which assists with regulation of mood, sleep, memory, even behaviour.
Fermented probiotic foods, such as yoghurt, are great for anxiety. The best option is plain Greek yoghurt as it contains active live cultures such as Lactobaccilus & Bifidobacteria. If yoghurt isn’t your thing THINK sauerkraut, kombucha or miso for a few alternate fermented probiotic options. It is the positive effect of the probiotic which is the key point.
Nuts & seeds
Pepitas or pumpkin seeds – whatever you like to call them, are a great source of potassium & zinc. The potassium helps with blood pressure & electrolyte balance; whilst the zinc is essential to brain & nerve development.
Brazil nuts are high in selenium which can assist with reducing inflammation (which can be heightened when experiencing anxiety).
Almonds are also a great source of magnesium & vitamin E. Maybe grab a handful of nuts for an on the go snack or make a DIY trail mix, there are loads of benefits.
You need to aim for 70% cocoa content or higher (just remember to still keep your serving size small as it still contains sugars & fats). Dark chocolate contains flavanols, which are antioxidants that help the brain. It is also high in tryptophan, as well as being another good source of magnesium.
The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which is great for reducing inflammation & oxidative stress. These are problems often experienced in people with mood disorders such as anxiety or depression. Turmeric is a spice used a lot in Indian & South East Asian cooking, which means there are loads of recipes available & it is often an easy/family acceptable add into your cooking repertoire.
There are of course other foods which are also beneficial, but these are usually pretty easy additions into a diet.
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