Ever heard the saying, “Healthy gut, healthy mind?” Yeah me either.
But I’ve heard this one a lot:
You are what you eat.
And it’s true…
Nearly 20% of Americans suffer from anxiety alone. I never thought about food being something that could affect my mental health. But I started experimenting, researching and learning as much as I could to get myself to a healthy mental state.
I’ve suffered from panic attacks for a while now. They’re no fun. One moment you’re okay, and the next your hands are shaking, your heart is tight, you feel like your arm is pumping too much blood into your body and it just might explode, and you’re thinking you’re having a heart attack.
The embarrassing tears that are streaming down your face, the hyperventilating that comes with it. It’s the worst feeling. And all you feel is a loss of control. And somewhere deep inside, you seriously think you’re about to die.
And then there’s depression. The days you don’t want to get out of bed, you find comfort in only your pillows. Maybe not even in that either. There’s no reason, no purpose and no light.
I won’t go deep into this because mental health is such a touchy subject. But I’ve suffered from both. And let me tell you guys, feeling like you’ve got no control over what your mind wants to do to your heart is the scariest thing.
Feeling like you’ve got no control over what your mind wants to do to your heart is the scariest thing.
So, I dove myself into learning these things because I want to share them with you guys.
Mental health is soooooo important. And sometimes, we might act crazy and not even realize why it is. Or we at least think WE are crazy. I know I think that about myself sometimes.
The biggest thing I’ve seen that could have an impact on your mental health is nutrition. The food you intake is EVERYTHING for your mind.
Your brain is the power that moves, responds, reacts, feels, talks… everything. It controls and dominates who you are and how you respond to things.
So what are you feeding your brain? What foods are you giving yourself?
Here are some of the TOP foods that help improve your mental health:
1.) Raw Leafy Greens & Veggies
There’s been tons of studies done associated with raw veggies and leafy greens to show that they improve mental health. Not only do they sharpen your mind, but they help combat depression and anxiety and they are high in folic acid.
Folic acid is known to affect the moods and cognitive functions of people. It also plays an important factor in the nervous system of humans.
Not only that, but folate deficiencies are even known to cause depression AND dementia.
I find that the best way for me to add leafy greens that are rich in folate to my diet is by making delicious shakes.
My favorite shake includes the following ingredients:
- 1/2 Cup 100% Pineapple chunks/juice (the one from can!)
- 1/2 Cup Almond Milk (I like vanilla because it adds flavor)
- Chia Seeds (also good for mental health!)
- 1 Banana
- 1 Leaf of Kale
- Handful of Spinach
- Bunch of Wheat Grass
- Vanilla Protein Powder (If it’s after a gym sesh!0
This shake gives me so much energy. Honestly, if I’m even in a funk, feeling sluggish, too tired, moody or anything like that, I just make one of these green shakes and after I’m done I feel ten times better. I have more energy, I don’t feel sluggish, my mind feels sharper and most importantly, I don’t feel anxious.
2.) Kefir and Yogurt
Both of these products contain high amounts of probiotics. A probiotic is a healthy bacteria and our bodies need these!
Healthy probiotics that are found in Kefir and Yogurt can actually help reduce anxiety and stress hormones.
Sometimes, we might look at these foods that we should be eating, and we think that we might die because how could we ever give up our Death Wish coffee and greasy french fries? I’m not saying you should give those up, I still indulge every now and then. I’m saying that you’ll notice your energy levels will soar through the roof, your mind will soar with it. Your body will thank you, and most importantly, your mind will thank you.
I eat yogurt up to twice a day. I spruce it up with some fruit or some granola and chia seeds!
3.) Seafood, Flax Seeds and Chia Seeds
These three foods have one big thing in common: Omega 3. Decades ago, scientists did a study that showed depressed people had a deficiency in Omega 3. There is a good variety of ways to take Omega 3. I like to take the vitamins because I don’t eat seafood, so I tend to be more deficient than not, and I like to add chia seeds to my smoothies and yogurts like I mentioned above.
Our brains are sensitive to inflammation and Omega 3 is a key to helping keep that inflammation at bay. There was a study that was done back in 2008 that shows the difference that Omega 3 has in the brain. It proved that people with anxiety were more likely to relapse to drugs and alcohol on a placebo than people that were taking omegas. There were plenty of other studies done to show that this is still true today.
Like I mention, while I’m not a fan of seafood and I don’t eat any of it because it makes me sick, I take Omega 3 vitamins to help supplement for that loss.
Just a little food for thought.
4.) Raw coconut
This could be anything from coconut butter to coconut straight from the jar. A spoonful of coconut in the morning may even be all the difference you need.
Coconut oil is so good that the doctors of Alzheimer patients usually prescribe tablets of coconut oil to help improve cognitive functions.
Healthline.com talks about studies that suggest that medium-chain triglycerides can increase blood levels of ketones, supplying energy for the brain cells of Alzheimer’s patients and relieving symptoms.
The ketones in the coconut are the main tool. Ketones are a very potent fuel that act as glucose but stronger. Ketones give our brains energy and supply necessary things needed to do our daily functions. They also stimulate the growth of healthy brain cells. Coconut is so far the strongest source for providing ketones into our blood up to date.
Personally, I like to eat spoonful of organic cold-pressed coconut oil in the morning and before the gym. It gives me energy, wakes me up and makes me feel sharp. I’ve heard amazing things about coconut oil and it’s miracles and I don’t think I could ever stop taking it!
Making changes in your diet is not easy. But when it comes to something that affects the way we feel every single day, a small change here and there is nothing when it can be EVERYTHING for your mental health.
Now, I am no professional, I’m not a doctor, nutritionists or anything like that. I speak off of in depth research, experiences, and stories from people with experience. Please talk to your doctor before making any drastic changes in your diet.