Nutrition and Mental Health
Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety have become top of the news agenda when it comes to discussing health, and rightfully so – it’s a topic that needs much research and clarification. The World Health Organisation estimates that ‘globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression’ and that ‘depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease’.
It’s well reported that exercise is good for mental health, but can what you’re eating make a difference too? The answer is a resounding YES! The key is to eat more whole, natural foods and steer clear of processed junk foods.
Need a few tips on where to get started? Fit Squad DXB’s Co-founder Daniel Wells talks through his top 10 healthy mind and body foods, and why you should be eating them.
1) Green Tea: This favourite of brews contains antioxidants which regulate glucose levels and increase dopamine – your happy hormone.
2) Almonds: As well as healthy fats, this super nut contains vitamin E and phenylalanine amino acid which also increases dopamine production.
3) Dark chocolate: Who knew this delectable treat is high in antioxidants and magnesium which helps relieve anxiety and can help relieve migraines too.
4) Brown rice/pasta, oats and whole grains in general: These ‘super low on the glycemic index’ foods keep your blood sugar levels in a steadier state – which decreases the risk of mood swings and fluctuations in energy in both mind and body.
5) Quinoa: this super food is a no brainer; high in protein, includes all nine essential amino acids and one serving boasts 29% of your daily magnesium needs.
6) Pecans: Packed full of healthy fats, 19 vitamins and minerals, super high in vitamin E and also choline which is a nutrient that’s required to make acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter.
7) Pumpkin seeds (best without salt): Again, full of those healthy fats and high in zinc too which increases long and short term memory.
8) Avocado: Everyone’s favourite fruit has many benefits; high in healthy fats, increases skin health, libido and it also contains oleic acid which increases brain power.
9) Eggs: this go to breakfast item is high in protein, includes all B vitamins, choline and tryptophan, which is a precursor to the brain neurotransmitter serotonin.
10) Tomatoes: it might surprise you but they contain high quantities of folic acid and alpha-lipoic acid, both of which aid in fighting depression.
Read next: Why You Should Be Cutting Out Breakfast