In line with Mental Health Awareness Month, we talk the foods fit to help fight depression, boost body and mind. We are what we eat, and the nutrients we (do or don’t) consume, have a direct impact on brain and physical function.
GO, GO H20
Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day (about 2 litres) to prevent dehydration. Studies show that even mild dehydration can cause fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and mood changes.
DON’T SKIP BREAKFAST
Breakfast is needed to fuel your body (including your brain) following a long period of sleep and zero food consumption. It also jump starts your metabolism for the day. Skipping meals leads to fatigue and feelings of “brain fog.”
High-fat dairy, and fried, refined, and sugary foods, which have little nutritional value. In addition to contributing to weight gain, and conditions like diabetes, research shows that a diet that consists primarily of these kinds of foods significantly increases risk of depression.
Rather, eat a diet that relies on fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish and unsaturated fats (like olive oil). People who follow this kind of diet are up to 30% less likely to develop depression than people who eat lots of meat and dairy product.
MIND AND BODY BOOSTING NUTRIENTS
FOLIC ACID/VITAMIN B9
Increased intake of folate is associated with a lower risk of depression. Iti s especially important for pregnant women, but everyone needs folic acid for production of cells. Reach for leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale, fruits, nuts, beans and whole grains.
Rates of depression are higher in people with Vitamin D deficiency compared to people who have adequate levels of vitamin D. Most foods don’t naturally have Vitamin D, but many are “Vitamin D fortified.” Fatty fish like salmon and tuna have the most naturally occurring Vitamin D. Other foods like milk, orange juice and breakfast cereals have Vitamin D added. Of course, moderate sun exposure is one of the best ways to support Vitamin D levels.
OMEGA 3/FATTY ACIDS
Some studies suggest that omega-3s may be helpful in the treatment of depression and seem to have a mood-stabilising effect. Omega-3 essential fatty acids may also help boost the effectiveness of conventional antidepressants and help young people with ADHD.
Oily fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, anchovies and sardines) are the most highly recommended sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and experts suggest eating these types of fish at least twice a week. Omega-3s can also be found in walnuts, flax (or flaxseed oil), olive oil, fresh basil and dark green leafy vegetables.
HOW TO TAKE PART IN MENTAL AWARENESS MONTH
- Take an online mental health screening
- Create a self-care routine
- Try meditating
- Check In on those around you
- Tell them your experience
- Support a mental health organisation
- Speak with a therapist