You need to have a multi-pronged approach to your mental health game. Aside from exercise, neurofeedback, meditation, healthy activities or hobbies, eating right is also at the top of the list.
Eating healthy and nutritious food has never been easier with the proliferation of health food stores, competitors expanding their offerings to keep an edge, and the countless recipe websites that teach us how to prepare things we may have been previously unaware how to do. Not to mention lists such as this that outline some unique benefits from specific foods:
SPICES TO SUPPORT MENTAL HEALTH: saffron, turmeric (curcumin), saffron plus curcumin, peppermint (for attention), cinnamon (for attention, ADHD, irritability).
DOPAMINE-RICH FOODS for focus and motivation: turmeric, theanine from green tea, lentils, fish, lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, eggs, nuts and seeds (pumpkin and sesame), high protein veggies (such as broccoli and spinach), protein powders.
SEROTONIN-RICH FOODS for mood, sleep, pain and craving control: Combine tryptophan-containing foods, such as eggs, turkey, seafood, chickpeas, nuts and seeds (building blocks for serotonin), with healthy carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes and quinoa, to elicit a short-term insulin response that drives tryptophan into the brain. Dark chocolate also increases serotonin.
GABA-RICH FOODS for anti-anxiety: broccoli, almonds, walnuts, lentils, bananas, beef liver, brown rice, halibut, gluten-free whole oats, oranges, rice bran, spinach.
CHOLINE-RICH FOODS: shrimp, eggs, scallops, sardines, chicken, turkey, tuna, cod, beef, collard greens, Brussels sprouts.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES: up to 8 a day helps moods.
MACA: this root vegetable/medicinal plant, native to Peru, has been shown to reduce depression.
OMEGA-3-RICH FOODS to support nerve cell membranes and serotonin. Helps manage moods and inflammation
ANTIOXIDANT-RICH FOODS: acai fruit, parsley, cocoa powder, raspberries, walnuts, blueberries, artichokes, cranberries, kidney beans, blackberries, pomegranates, chocolate, olive, and hemp oil (not for cooking at high temperatures), dandelion green and green tea.
MAGNESIUM-RICH FOODS for anxiety: pumpkin and sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, Swiss chard, sesame seeds, beet greens, summer squash, quinoa, black beans, and cashews.
ZINC-RICH FOODS: oysters, beef, lamb, spinach, shiitake and cremini mushrooms, asparagus, sesame and pumpkin seeds.
VITAMIN B6, B12, FOLATE-RICH FOODS: leafy greens, cabbage, bok choy, bell peppers, cauliflower, lentils, asparagus, garbanzo beans, spinach, broccoli, parsley, cauliflower, salmon, sardines, lamb, tuna, beef, and eggs.
PREBIOTIC-RICH FOODS: dandelion greens, asparagus, chia seeds, beans, cabbage, psyllium, artichokes, raw garlic, onions, leeks, root vegetables (sweet potatoes, yams, squash, jicama, beets, carrots, turnips).
PROBIOTIC-RICH FOODS: brined vegetables (not vinegar), kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, miso soup, pickles, spirulina, chlorella, blue-green algae, kombucha tea.
So be adventurous, try something new for a reason that is meaningful to you. Incorporate eating right into your strategy for mental health. If you are looking to get serious about a multi-pronged approach to tackling mental health, build an exercise plan, take up a hobby that calms you down, get a brain mapping and find out the potential of neurofeedback as a part of that regimen.
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