Did you know that diet can improve your concentration, memory, mood and energy levels? Our brain is the powerhouse of our body so it is important that we provide it high quality ‘fuel’ to ensure it is functioning at it’s best. We strive to look after our physical health but it is just as important to look after your mental health and wellbeing.
By this stage you may be thinking, ‘how does the food I eat impact on my mental health and do I have to eat a bucket of broccoli to see the effect’? Well, you’ve come to the right place because I’m going to give a brief overview of how simple everyday foods work to improve your mental health, and no, you don’t have to eat a bucket of broccoli- unless you want to!
Fruit and vegetables:
Like the rest of the Foost team, I have a love affair with fruit and vegetables! These beauties are rich in important vitamins and minerals which keep our brain happy and healthy. So what exactly is in fruit and vegetables that helps our brains to function at its best? I’m glad you asked!
- Folate is a vitamin which has a key role in converting the food that we eat into glucose, which is what our brain uses as fuel. Having enough fuel in ‘brain tank’ helps to maintain concentration and energy levels. Make sure your including some dark leafy green vegetables into your meals as these pack a folate punch. Why not try your hand at making some yummy Gozleme which has a tasty spinach filling (recipe here)
- Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants which help to protect the brain against damage from free radicals which damage cells. Remember, EAT COLOURFUL to ensure you are getting a range of nutrients and antioxidants that your brain needs.
Wholegrain breads and cereals:
Where possible, try to consume higher fibre varieties of breads and cereals as they have a lower Glycaemic Index (GI) which means longer lasting energy, improved concentration and a stable mood. Say goodbye to the 3pm slump!
Try multigrain bread and crackers, traditional oats, pasta and brown, basmati rice.
Dairy (milk, cheese yoghurt and alternatives):
These foods are a great source of an amino acid called Tryptophan which creates the happy brain chemical Serotonin. Serotonin plays a major role regulating your mood, appetite and sleep patterns.
Lean meat, fish, poultry, nuts, eggs and legumes:
These foods will also help to increase the amount of Serotonin in your brain as well providing you with some essential Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, these are the ‘healthy fats’. Including Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids in your diet is important because they maintain the the cells in the brain.
- Eating from the 5 food groups will ensure that you are receiving all of the nutrition that your brain needs to function at it’s best.
- Eat a range of colourful fruit and vegetables to help you brain work in tip top condition. More tips: here
- A handful of nuts everyday will help to boost the amount of Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids in your diet.
- Eating protein rich foods (dairy, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts) will help to increase the amount of the happy brain chemicals.
- Aim to include fish (including; oily fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines) 2-3 times per week to boost your Omega 3 fatty acid intake.
If this blog post has raised concerns regarding your mental health, make sure you have a chat with a loved one or your GP.