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Boosting Mental Health Through Nutrition

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a national event to bring attention to the importance of mental health and help fight the stigma associated with mental illnesses.

Taking care of yourself is so important to support your mental health and overall wellbeing. Factors contributing to good mental health are nutrition, regulate sleep, daily movement, and having a strong support system around you.

Did you know that what you eat has a large impact on your mood? Those suffering with a mental illness could lack proper nutrition and are deficient in neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which helps regulate mood, sleep, and cognitive function. Certain foods have a positive impact on our mental wellbeing. Here are just a few of our favorite nutrient dense foods to help optimize and manage our mental health.

Fermented foods: Probiotic rich foods such as sauerkraut, miso, yogurt, and kimchi, contain high amounts of probiotics, which are friendly bacteria that aid in keeping the gut balanced, thus. A healthy gut microbiome helps protect our brain function including our memory, cognition, and to regulate our emotions.   

Blueberries: Blueberries brain-boosting power comes from their high concentration of antioxidants. They contain antioxidants that help protect our bodies from disease and age-related health risks. These super berries also contain anti-inflammatory properties that help boost cognitive function and improve memory. 

Avocado: Avocados are rich in healthy fats, stress-relieving B vitamins, and tryptophan, an amino acid that have a powerful impact on regulating mood and mental health.  The fats in avocados can act as a nutrient booster by helping enhance the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. 

Chia Seeds: Chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats play a role in the functioning of serotonin and dopamine, both critical to mood and mental health.

Leafy Greens: Leafy greens such as spinach, arugula, collards, swiss chard, and broccoli are rich in brain-healthy nutrients such as vitamin C and K, lutein, and folate helping to protect your brain, relive stress, support immunity, and optimize gut health, thus boosting cognitive function.

Green Tea: Green tea offers neuroprotective effects with its antioxidant and phytonutrient health promoting compounds. Green tea also contains l-theanine, which is an amino acid that has been shown to stimulate relaxation, improve mood and reduce oxidative stress. 

Diet is just one factor that can affect mental health. This approach is most beneficial in conjunction with lifestyle modification, supplementation, nervous system regulation and mindfulness. Click HERE for more information on the mind-gut connection and the relationship between the brain and the digestive system. 

Remember to be kind to your body and be kind to your mind.

 

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