Role of diet and nutrition has long been implicated in behaviour, mood and in the pathology, as well as treatment of mental illness.
Our mental health highly affects how we think, feel and act as it encompasses our psychological, emotional, social wellbeing and affects our overall health. It has been observed that mental and neurological disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, and dementia represent the greatest global burden of disease. Also, certain epidemiological studies have shown that following a Mediterranean style diet which includes major consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, may help protect from a mental disorder.
Furthermore, Aman Puri, Founder, Steadfast Nutrition, says that new avenue in nutritional psychiatry suggests that modulation of the gut microbiota by intake of probiotics and prebiotic foods and supplements may be helpful for the treatment of neuropsychiatric conditions. The bidirectional communication between the gut microbiota and the brain may influence neurotransmission and the behaviour associated with such mental disorder conditions. The mechanisms behind nutritional impact are likely to be many and complex.
Certain foods that help improve overall brain health and types of mood disorders are as follows:-
Fatty fish like salmon, sardine, tuna which are a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids, EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA(Docosahexaenoic acid ) is linked to lower levels of depression and may also contribute to play an important role in brain development and signalling.
Pre and Probiotic Foods
- Probiotic-rich foods such as kimchi( fermented vegetables), yoghurt, curd, kefir (fermented milk), kombucha (fermented tea) and sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) help improve gut health and may influence mood as well by increasing the serotonin levels, a key hormone for the feeling of happiness and well being.
- Prebiotic foods are non-digestible fibre naturally present in foods like bananas, garlic, chicory etc, which act as food for probiotics (gut-friendly bacteria) for their multiplication. It is advisable to have supplements of probiotics or prebiotic if one is unable to keep regular intake of these food sources.
Chocolate releases a cascade of compounds such as caffeine, flavonoids, theobromine, N-acylethanolamine which triggers a psychological response, help increase blood flow to your brain and boost brain health.
Coloured vegetables and Fruits
Vegetables like leafy greens, lettuce, peppers and cruciferous vegetables are rich in disease-fighting phenolic compounds, which play a role in combatting oxidative stress. Among fruits, particularly berries like blueberries, strawberries, blackberries are packed with a wide range of antioxidants, since purple-blue coloured anthocyanin pigment has been associated to lower the risk of depression symptoms. Therefore, the presence of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants help deal with stress and lower depression.
Also Read: Two Apples A Day, Keeps Cholesterol Away
Nuts and Seeds
Certain nuts and seeds like almonds, cashew nuts, peanuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds contain healthy fat, fibre and provide amino acid tryptophan, responsible for producing mood-boosting serotonin. More importantly, it is suggested to cut back on alcohol, processed food items, foods high in saturated fats as they decrease the brain function.
In a nutshell, our mental health is dynamic and for its wellbeing inclusion of fermented foods, variety of fruits & vegetables, nuts and seeds and fish is of prime importance in our daily diet, as it plays a role in the treatment of depressive disorders. It is mainly due to the presence of antioxidants, phenolic compounds, and nutrients that are beneficial for the overall mental well being. Since food consists of many compounds that interact in highly complex ways, so many research studies are needed to infer how food amplifies brain health.
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