We all know that a balanced diet is good for our physical health and can reduce the risk of developing diabetes, cancer, obesity and cardiovascular disease. A less known thing is that certain foods beneficial to the brain are overwhelming in helping maintain mental health.
Frequency of mental illness is rising at an alarming rate, and medication for these diseases costs hundreds of billions of euros each year globally. But there is evidence that the risk of mental illness can also be controlled through diet.
Recently, researchers have made major discoveries about the influence that certain foods have on their psychological well-being. In this article we present some foods you should eat to strengthen your mind and enhance your well-being.
1. Beneficial foods for the brain: Complex carbohydrates
One way to improve your wellbeing is to properly feed your brain cells with carbohydrates.Complex carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
These are beneficial foods for the brain because it gradually releases glucose throughout the body. This helps stabilize the mood. Here’s why.
Simple carbohydrates from snacks and sweet drinks cause fluctuations in sugar levels. This phenomenon leads to the rapid increase and decrease of the feeling of happiness (or extreme gratitude) and have a negative effect on the psychological state.
Often, we use this type of sweet food to relieve ourselves when we feel unhappy. But this can create a brain- like reaction to addiction .
This reaction is similar to the response to drugs that create good mood in the short term, but have long-term negative effects. Therefore, increasing the consumption of complex carbohydrates and decreasing the consumption of snacks and sweet drinks contribute decisively to the installation of the well-being.
Oxidation is a normal process that our cells perform to function. Oxidation produces energy for our body and brain.
Unfortunately, this process also creates oxidative stress , more in the brain than in any other part of the body. Chemical substances that induce good health, such as dopamine and serotonin, are reduced by the oxidation process.
Over time, this phenomenon can lead to a degradation of mental health. Antioxidants found in brightly colored foods, such as fruits and vegetables, protect the body from oxidative stress and inflammation.
All antioxidants also repair the damage caused by the oxidation process and consume free radicals that cause damage to brain cells. Consumption of antioxidant-rich foods increases the level of chemicals in the brain that give us a good state of mind and the establishment of a positive disposition.
3. Omega 3
Omega 3 are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are involved in the process of converting food into energy. These acids are important for brain health and for regulating levels of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.
Omega 3 fatty acids are commonly found in fish oil, nuts, seeds, leafy vegetables, eggs, and grazing meat. It has been discovered that Omega 3 improves brain function, slows the progression of dementia and can reduce the symptoms of depression.
Omega 3 are essential nutrients that are not produced as such by the body. Instead, they can be found in the food we eat, so it is important to include in our daily diet several Omega 3-rich foods.
4. Vitamins B
Vitamin B plays an important role in stimulating substances responsible for the well-being, such as serotonin and dopamine. These vitamins can be found in green vegetables, beans, bananas and beets.
It has been discovered that a diet rich in vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid protects against depression. Vitamin B deficiency can result in lower production of dopamine and serotonin, and this may result in a negative disposition.
Increasing the amount of B vitamins in our diet contributes to the well-being, both mentally and physically.
5. Beneficial foods for the brain: Prebiotic and probiotic substances
The trillions of good and bad bacteria that live in our stomach influence our mood, behavior and mental health. “Chemical messengers” in our stomach influence our emotions, appetite and responses to stressful situations.
Prebiotics and probiotics found in yoghurt, cheese and fermented foods such as mutton and kimichi have the same effect on the brain as antidepressants.
Prebiotics and probiotics have been found to inhibit immune reactions in the body, reduce inflammation of the brain, attenuate depressive and anxious states, and increase the frequency of positive emotions.
This is why the inclusion of these beneficial foods for the brain in our regular menu has surprising effects on mental health.