Good mental health is associated with psychological and emotional well-being. Mental disorders like depression, ADHD, schizophrenia, and anxiety can affect anyone. Usually, medications are prescribed to people suffering from these conditions. These can be temporary solutions that may not address the root cause of the problems.
Your diet and lifestyle can play an important role in your mental health and overall health. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, folate, complex carbohydrates, and antioxidants can be effective in the treatment and prevention of mental disorders.
Foods That Can Improve Your Mental Health
Here are some foods you must include in your diet to improve your mental health and brain function:
1. Leafy Greens
Folate deficiency is high in people with psychiatric disorders, including depression and dementia.1 2 Low in calories and fat, leafy greens like chard, kale, lettuce, broccoli, and spinach, are a great source of iron, calcium, potassium, omega-3, and folate.
Omega-3 fatty acids and folate in leafy greens can be effective in the treatment of mental disorders like major depression, postpartum depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.3
Including yogurt in your diet can show improvements in mental health, mental capabilities, and also manage depression and anxiety.
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are responsible for the production of neurotransmitters linked to your moods like dopamine and serotonin.This helps to regulate your mood.
Omega-3 is also present in chia seeds and provides the mental health benefits in the treatment and prevention of psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia, ADHD, and depression. They also help to ward off memory loss.6
Oysters are a great source of zinc that has antidepressant effects. Low levels of zinc are associated with depression, as zinc is responsible for the normal functioning of the brain. Studies have found that zinc deficiency is common in several psychiatric disorders.7
Furthermore, oysters also contain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and iron, which improve the functioning of the brain and helps to stabilize mood.
As good sources of antioxidants, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries can have a positive effect on your mood and lower the depression score.8
Greater long-term intake of berries is associated with slower rates of cognitive decline in older women.9 Berries can also benefit heart health, diabetes, and weight loss.
6. Whole Grains
Whole grains are naturally rich in an amino acid called tryptophan, which your body needs to produce serotonin, the “feel-good” hormone that acts as a mood stabilizer. Van der Does, AJ Willem. Tryptophan depletion is seen in people with anxiety and depression.10
By regulating and maintaining the blood sugar levels, complex carbohydrates in whole grains can keep your mood elevated for longer. Like whole grains, other sources of complex carbohydrates include barley, beans, and soy.
Tomatoes are rich in potassium that benefits the nervous system by supporting the transmission of nerve signals. The antioxidant lycopene present in tomatoes may also protect mental health by reducing oxidative stress or damage to the brain cells.
A study found that including tomatoes in your diet can reduce or prevent the occurrence of depressive symptoms.11
|↑1||Young, Simon N., and A. Missagh Ghadirian. “Folic acid and psychopathology.” Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry 13, no. 6 (1989): 841-863.|
|↑2||Young, Simon N. “Folate and depression—a neglected problem.” Journal of psychiatry & neuroscience 32, no. 2 (2007): 80.|
|↑3||Peet, Malcolm, and Caroline Stokes. “Omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.” Drugs 65, no. 8 (2005): 1051-1059.|
|↑4||Mohammadi, Ali Akbar, Shima Jazayeri, Kianoush Khosravi-Darani, Zahra Solati, Nakisa Mohammadpour, Zatollah Asemi, Zohre Adab et al. “The effects of probiotics on mental health and hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in petrochemical workers.” Nutritional neuroscience 19, no. 9 (2016): 387-395.|
|↑5||Champeau, Rachel. “Changing gut bacteria through diet affects brain function, UCLA study shows.” UCLA Newsroom 28 (2013).|
|↑6||Freeman, Marlene P., Joseph R. Hibbeln, Katherine L. Wisner, John M. Davis, David Mischoulon, Malcolm Peet, Paul E. Keck Jr et al. “Omega-3 fatty acids: evidence basis for treatment and future research in psychiatry.” Journal of Clinical psychiatry 67, no. 12 (2006): 1954.|
|↑7||Grønli, Ole, Jan Magnus Kvamme, Oddgeir Friborg, and Rolf Wynn. “Zinc deficiency is common in several psychiatric disorders.” PloS one 8, no. 12 (2013): e82793.|
|↑8||Leng, G. C. “Impact of antioxidant therapy on symptoms of Anxiety and depression. A randomized controlled trial in patients with peripheral arterial disease.” Journal of nutritional & environmental medicine 8, no. 4 (1998): 321-328.|
|↑9||Devore, Elizabeth E., Jae Hee Kang, Monique Breteler, and Francine Grodstein. “Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline.” Annals of neurology 72, no. 1 (2012): 135-143.|
|↑10||”The effects of tryptophan depletion on mood and psychiatric symptoms.” Journal of affective disorders 64, no. 2 (2001): 107-119.|
|↑11||Niu, Kaijun, Hui Guo, Masako Kakizaki, Yufei Cui, Kaori Ohmori-Matsuda, Lei Guan, Atsushi Hozawa et al. “A tomato-rich diet is related to depressive symptoms among an elderly population aged 70 years and over: a population-based, cross-sectional analysis.” Journal of affective disorders 144, no. 1 (2013): 165-170.|