In the last couple of years, we have seen an increase not just in physical health problems but also in mental health problems. And everybody knows that it is the need of the hour to talk about mental health issues and encourage those who are suffering from mental health problems to come out in the open so that they can find a solution to their mental health issues. To live a balanced and healthy life, mental health is very important. NAMI, the national alliance of mental illness states that every 1 out of 5 Americans experience mental health concerns and this roughly translates to nearly 40,000,000 adults every year.
For those who aren’t aware, mental health is something that encompasses emotional, social well-being, and psychological well-being as well. This signals that our mental health directly impacts the way we think, the way we feel, and the way we behave every single day in our lives. Good mental health also contributes to our decision-making skills, how we handle stress, and how we bond or relate with other humans in our lifetime.
Why is mental health so important?
To put it down in simple terms, mental health is very important as it plays a vital part when it comes to our thoughts, behavior, and our ability to handle emotions. One needs to be mentally and emotionally healthy so that they can have productive days and also make an effective impact on society. Nothing in this world matters as much as mental health. As humans, we have been growing and evolving every single day. And it is only if we have proper mental health that we will be able to adapt to these changes a bit in terms of work, school, family, social network, and all kinds of adversities. You see, just as how physical fitness helps our bodies to stay active and strong, mental fitness of our body helps us to sustain and achieve a good state of mental health. If we are healthy mentally, we will be able to enjoy the environment that we are in, the life that we are living, and the people in it. With good mental health, we can learn new things, we can be creative, and we can take risks to become better versions of ourselves in our lives. But did you know that the food we eat also plays a role in maintaining good mental health? If you didn’t know about this, read on to understand how food impacts your mental health.
How does what you eat impact your mental health?
Good nutrition is essential to lead a healthy life! But of late, there is a lot of research that is happening to understand that nutrition and a healthy diet isn’t just beneficial for our body, it turns out to be great for our brain too. Studies have shown how nearly 80% of teens are affected with depression because they were administered with the lowest quality diet which is what people called the Western diet.
Dietary nutrients play a vital role in the state of mental health as it has the potential to directly impact our anxiety level, mood, ability to focus, and other aspects of our brains functions. Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet that is rich in nutrients and vegetables is linked with healthy well-being!
On the contrary, dietary intake which is low in all micronutrients and deficient when it comes to vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, folate, calcium, iron is linked with a functional decrease and decline in the quality of life and an increase in health care costs. Good nutrition is essential as they act as building blocks to produce chemicals for our brain which is very much required to regulate one’s behavior and mood. Any traces of micronutrient inadequacies – contribute to a decreased quality of life. We wanted to create awareness regarding how vital proper nutrition is to our human body. Here is a list of five essential nutrients that play a major role in maintaining good mental health. Read on and make a note.
Five essential nutrients for your mental health
Vitamin B12: If your body is low on vitamin B12, then maintaining a healthy lifestyle becomes a burden. Your brain’s healthy function, the health of your nerve tissues, and adequate production of red blood cells – all of these depend on a good intake of vitamin B-12. Those who have lower levels of vitamin B12 are more prone to suffer from brain inflammation and are at a higher risk of dementia and depression. Also, if one falls short for late then even that directly brings the person to the brim of lower levels of mood.
Severe mental problems might develop if the body has low levels of vitamin B12. Therefore it is vital to ensure proper intake of vitamin B12. Taking vitamin B-12 should be easy for all of us as they are naturally found in abundance in fish, meat, dairy products, etc. for those who do not eat meat, for example, the only way to get adequate amounts of vitamin B12 and their bodies will be with the help of supplements. Also, certain breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin B12, even fortified milk is available.
Omega-3 fatty acids: These are also known by the names omega-3 fats and n– 3 fats that benefit both the body and brain. It helps to improve heart health, fight autoimmune diseases, and information. Omega-3 fatty acids are very essential for healthy functioning of the brain and it also lowers the level of a particular fact that can contribute to depression, anxiety, unstable moods, poor focus, attention, etc. good intake of these healthy fatty acids will improve one’s memory, thinking capabilities and also promote a good mood. Omega-3 fatty acids can be easily found in fatty fishes such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, etc. some of the other sources of these fatty acids are nuts, oysters, seeds, etc.
Zinc: One of the essential minerals that are required for the good health of the body and mind is zinc. If a person’s body has low levels of zinc, it can impact the person’s anxiety levels and mood, it can reduce the person’s appetite, and it can also make the person feel like he or she has no motivation or energy to do things in life. Zinc is one nutrient that helps in controlling our body’s response to stress. Low levels of zinc lead to depression directly. One of the greatest sources of zinc or oysters. This mineral is found in abundance in shellfish, lean meats, legumes, eggs, dairy foods, whole grains, seeds, nuts, etc.
Selenium: This is one essential mineral that plays a very important role in performing different functions of the human body, especially in the process of reproduction while the body is fighting an infection. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that also helps in improving mode. It is also considered to be vital for your thyroid health, amongst other important functions. Selenium can be found in foods such as turkey, fish, chicken, milk, eggs, yogurt, Brazil nuts, bananas, cottage cheese, mushrooms, spinach, etc.
Magnesium: this is a very important mineral that is directly involved in the various chemical reactions that take place in the human body. Low levels of magnesium could lead to sudden anxiety, panic, poor sleep, restlessness, or irritability. Foods that are rich in magnesium are leafy greens like collard greens, kale, and spinach. Legumes, whole grains, dark chocolate, seeds, nuts, fatty fish, or some other examples of foods that are rich in magnesium.
Three ways a healthy diet impacts mental health
It is very important to include the above-mentioned five essential nutrients to boost the good health of your mind. Here is how a good diet with the five essential nutrients that is your mental health:
- It plays a crucial role in brain development
When we get into the habit of eating real food that nourishes our body and mind, it helps our body to build proteins, enzymes, neurotransmitters, green tissues which are very important to transfer signals and information between our brain and various other parts of the body.
- It enables the brain to switch on grow mode
The dietary patterns that we follow and the nutrients that we get from them are directly linked to our brain protein and its connection with brain cells.
- It fills our gut with a band and healthy bacteria
This is very good for the brain. Trillions of bacteria live in the gut. They are a good bacterium that helps in keeping away bad germs and protects our body by keeping the immunity system in check.
Therefore, we need to focus on eating nutrient-dense foods, we need to move more, we need to ensure that we get adequate sleep, and we also need to learn how to manage stress, for these other contributors to good mental and physical health.