As we know, good nutrition is a vital part of leading a healthy life. And as the old saying goes “ You are what you eat” and this rings true when it comes to the food we choose to eat and the nutrients our body absorbs from what we consume.
Dietary nutrients have a major role in our mental health. What we eat and drink impacts our mood, our energy levels, anxiety levels, ability to focus, and every other aspect of brain function.
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet rich in vegetables and nutrients has been associated with feelings of well-being.
Here are six nutrients that may positively influence brain health and where you can find them
Vitamin B12 helps to maintain healthy brain cognition, nerve tissues, and red blood cell production. Naturally found in meats, fish, dairy products and some types of breakfast cereals and milk are fortified with B12. For those who don’t eat meet or are vegan, vitamin B12 is available in the form of supplements.
It is needed for neurotransmitter production, and low levels of vitamin D have been linked to depression, anxiety, and a host of other mental health symptoms.
Vitamin D is also essential for maintaining healthy bones and teeth. Your body produces vitamin D as a response to sun exposure and you can boost your intake through certain foods or supplements - egg yolks, fatty fish, cheese, fortified cereals and juices.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Also known as omega-3 fats and n-3 fats, omega-3 fatty acids offer many benefits for your brain and body. It can help improve heart health, fight inflammation and autoimmune diseases. It supports healthy brain function and low levels of this type of fat can lead to unstable moods, depression, anxiety, poor focus, and attention. Fatty fish such as sardines, salmon and mackerel are excellent sources of omega-3 fats. Other food sources include nuts, seeds and oysters, etc.
An extremely important mineral and is involved in hundreds of chemical reactions in your body.
Low levels of this essential nutrient can lead to increased anxiety and panic, restlessness, poor sleep, and irritability.
Foods which t are high in magnesium include - leafy greens like spinach, kale, cabbage - and whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, and some fatty fish.
This is an essential mineral which has several important functions in the body from supporting reproduction to fighting infection.
Selenium acts as a powerful antioxidant and helps improve mood and it's also important for your thyroid health, among various others.
Foods which provide selenium are chicken, turkey, fish, Brazil nuts, spinach, bananas, mushrooms, eggs, cottage cheese, milk and yogurt, etc.
Poor levels of zinc can impact mood and anxiety levels, reduce appetite, and lead to people generally feeling like they have no energy or motivation.
Zinc is abundant in lean meats, shellfish, legumes, whole grains, eggs, dairy foods, nuts and seeds.
Focusing more on nutrient-dense foods, moving more, getting adequate sleep, and managing stress will contribute to better physical and mental health.
Dr Clara Russell