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Combat Mental Illness Through Food

By: Mitchel Garvey

When we say the gut is our second brain, there’s a lot of complex yet important evidence behind it. For starters, the gut bacteria after fermenting different foods release brain protective chemicals. The hormones released upon digestion of food also work directly and indirectly to impact our mood and emotions. In a nutshell, the food we eat impacts our mental health.

Now that science has already explained how food affects our mental health, we need to work on how to optimize it.


Include Superfoods in Your Diet

Cheese, nuts and seeds, dried apples, eggs, pomegranate arils, and buckwheat, are considered some superfoods for your brain. Research indicates that consuming vegetables with healthy fat will help your body absorb essential nutrients in the body such as vitamin E. Include avocados, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, melon seeds, peanuts, etc. in your diet. These contain essential fatty acids that help improve the composition of the white matter in your brain. These, in turn, protect against Alzheimer’s, dementia, depression, and Parkinson’s Disease, for instance.

Never Skip Breakfast

Be vigilant about your first meal of the day. It shouldn’t be a cup of coffee on the go or a quick pizza slice on your office break. Make sure to get up on time and take out a few minutes to blend a smoothie for yourself – with berries, oats, yogurt, and some nuts. If you have ample time, don’t hesitate to make an omelet for yourself. Complete your meals for the day and make sure to include some healthy and quick breakfast ideas in your kitchen. Put aside some fruit and cut some vegetables, the night before, so you don’t think about skipping breakfast if you run out of time.

Include Salads in Your Lunch

Our lunch for the day should be light in calories, but heavy in nutrients. If you follow this principle, you will get the energy you need to function the rest of your working hours without a wave of tiredness running down your spine. For that, a great idea is to include some greens in your lunch. It is not wrong to include a healthy big portion of a salad in your lunch. Some people specifically go for salads for lunch. A good addition to these salads would be to include a protein portion such as fish, chicken, or tofu chunks. Having some peanuts or roasted nuts of some other kind will also boost the overall nutritional content of the salad. Save the carbs for snacks. You will see yourself getting more productive. It is also great for people who are dealing with depression.


Minimize Refined Sugar

Well, technically everything contains sugar, even natural products. But the challenge is to distinguish the right from wrong. The wrong side here is the refined sugar that is present in different foods that are processed. Don’t consume a lot of bakery products, sweetened beverages, candies, and other desserts that are high in calories. They activate the sugar reward system. Every time you get some sugar, you get high thinking you are in a better mood. That is a rush of dopamine in your brain. However, going after it repeatedly will land your brain in trouble. It becomes addicted to this rush and mistakes it for something good. It can land you in a messy situation getting more depressed than usual. Now, in an attempt to get rid of this depressed state, you end up eating more sugar, and the cycle goes on. So, you need to break this cycle and make sure you are minimizing or cutting out refined sugars.

Use More Fluids

Do not partake in sugary or carbohydrate beverages as they will do you no good. The idea is to provide more hydration to your brain as you want to make sure your brain keeps functioning at its best. Your body is majorly composed of water and lipids, so you need to make sure the brain cells are not getting affected by your lack of water intake. Make sure to drink enough glasses of fluid in a day. It will be on average 2 liters – that includes soups, juices, milk, water, and everything that comes in the category of fluids. Make sure to get the best out of it and have some more intake of water in your body through the day. Go for natural products when it comes to consuming fluids – fresh lemonade without sugar, a glass of fresh berry juice without sugar, and coconut milk are spectacularly healthy ideas.

Don’t Starve

Among the simplest, yet often ignored ideas about eating well for your mind is to make sure you keep eating small, frequent meals throughout the day. However, you need to keep the idea of fasting separate from this situation. Although there is evident research regarding positive effects of fasting, it is generally recommended that you keep your tummy satiated. Also, fasting all year round is not practical. So, on a broader perspective, you need to adapt to a healthy lifestyle where you keep providing your brain with a healthy dose of nutrients and fluids around the clock.


Your dietary choices and dietary behavior dictate how you feel and how you function throughout the day. If you put some focus on how you eat, what you eat, and how much you eat, you will be taking the necessary steps to a healthier you.

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