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Foods to Improve Mental Health

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Did you know that your mental health can be linked to your diet? Depression and anxiety can cause your body to feel sluggish. While you might require medication and other treatment options to help with your issues, you should consider changing your eating habits. Vegetables, grains, and fruits have those good nutrients can improve your mental health and get your mind and body feel better.  


Boost Your Mental and Physical Health 

Most people understand the ways to improve their physical health. At an early age, we are taught the basics of getting enough sleep, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and staying active. While the moves are not always obvious, you need to make the right choices for your mental health as well. Over the past few years, research has concluded that diet has a great effect on mental health. If you are looking for ways to improve your mental health, you might want to make a few changes to your diet.  


Depression Can Affect Anyone 

It is normal to feel a little down during certain parts of your life. However, if you feel like staying in bed or if you lose interest in your life, it might be time to talk to a professional. All these signs are symptoms of depression, especially if they last for more than two weeks. You should not feel like you are alone. In fact, about 25% of adults have experienced depression in their lives.  

Children are not immune. It is estimated that 10% of juveniles also have experienced some depression symptoms. Many treatment options are available to alleviate mental health issues, including changes to your diet.  


Your Mental Health and Nutrition 

The right foods can have a positive effect on your mental and physical health. Researchers have learned that those healthy foods affect the hippocampus. This part of the brain affects your mood and perception. For example, when you eat a candy bar, you might experience what is called a “sugar high.” Those effects do not last for too long, and you will be craving another sweet treat in no time. However, when you choose a vitamin-rich food, it can help to promote neurogenesis. In turn, your brain will produce new neurons so that you can have more energy and clarity.  

The production of serotonin is also important to your mental health. You might think that this chemical is found in your brain, but serotonin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract. It can regulate your moods and help you to sleep. This natural mood stabilizer is the product of good gut bacteria. When someone is stressed and eats unhealthy foods, he or she may have feelings of tiredness and depression.  


Depression and Anxiety Linked to an Unhealthy Diet 

Do you remember the food pyramid? It was taught in school to encourage healthy eating patterns. Over the years, many medical professionals have learned that unhealthy foods can put you at a higher risk for anxiety and depression. While no medical studies have linked unhealthy foods as the cause for mental disorders, these foods are known to exacerbate mental health problems.  

There are several foods that you want to avoid. If you are looking at your diet, make sure to cut down on the following:

  • Sugar
  • White flour
  • Processed food
  • Fried food
  • Meat
  • Dairy products
  • Refined grains
  • Fast food
  • Caffeine

Food is fuel, and those unhealthy choices can affect your mood and energy. If you consume caffeinated and sugary drinks, you might experience a sugar high. However, those drinks also can cause panic attacks. After the initial buzz, you will feel a drop in your mood. Do you ever notice that some people are cranky without coffee? They have become dependent on caffeine and need it to stabilize their moods. People can become addicted to coffee. You can quit, but you will have to do it slowly. One way to ditch those caffeinated drinks is by switching to a cup of tea. Not only does it have a lower amount of caffeine, but it includes healthy antioxidants.  

Along with affecting your mental health, these unhealthy eating habits can cause physical problems. Diabetes, high cholesterol, weight gain, and high blood pressure are products of a poor diet. Obesity is another problem that affects your physical health and that can create issues with social anxiety and depression.  


Improve Your Diet 

When you feel a little down, healthy eating and exercising can help with your mental health. While they are not miracle solutions, these actions do allow you to get some nutrition into your body. Some unhealthy foods can make your body feel run down. If you want to boost your mental mood, you need to make healthier choices in your life. While it is easier to grab those on-the-go choices, your body will be left craving essential nutrients.  

Whole foods, fruits, and vegetables give you the fuel to get through the day, and they also help with your mental health. You never want to reach for empty calories in the form of candy or chips. Make sure that you are choosing better snacks and meals for your diet. Many of these foods contain the right nutrients that are proven to boost your mood.  


Dark Leafy Greens 

This favorite food of rabbits is an excellent choice for your meals. Kale, swiss chard, and spinach are full of anti-inflammation vitamins. A few studies have even linked depression to inflammation. By eating some of these dark leafy greens, you could alleviate depression symptoms. Along with the anti-inflammation properties, these greens provide a good source of folic acid. Some researchers have suggested that a lack of these acids can lead to depression. With a few greens, you can boost your folate intake.  

  • Salmon: Fish is considered a good source of protein, and salmon is one of the healthiest choices. This fish contains plenty of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins D and B12. It is also packed with Omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients are known to lessen the effects of depression, especially vitamin B12. You can find B12 in eggs, lean meat, milk, poultry, and shellfish. The American Heart Association even recommends two servings of salmon per week.  
  • Black Beans: Magnesium and selenium can be found in black beans. If you want to boost your mental health, make sure to add these beans to your diet. A magnesium deficiency is linked to issues with mood and depression. When you add more magnesium to your diet, it can help balance those stress hormones and relax the nervous system.  
  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes are another great food. One study has found that adding tomatoes to your diet can reduce your chance of experiencing a depressive episode by 46%. In addition to that, tomatoes are full of alpha-lipoic and folic acids.   
  • Flax Seeds: While the cause of depression is still a mystery, many studies have linked a lack of Omega-3 acids to severe symptoms. Omega-3 acids can decrease the effects of mood disorders, and flaxseed contains many of those good nutrients. You can easily add them to your diet by sprinkling flaxseeds into a smoothie or salad.   
  • Berries: You might have heard that antioxidants are great for your health. Antioxidants are known to lower your depression symptoms and boost the health of your cells. These nutrients can also help regulate your bowel system, boost your immune system, and promote healthy aging.
  • Avocados: Avocados are a popular food. They are packed with all types of good fats and vitamins. While you can be trendy and add them to toast, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy these fruits. Avocados contain vitamins K, B, C, and E12. 
  •  Yogurt: You probably know that yogurt is good for your digestive health. Make sure to add more of the Greek variety to your meals. This yogurt contains probiotics that can boost your mood. Since serotonin is produced in the digestive tract, a healthier gut can do wonders for your mental health. 
  • Apples: You can also find antioxidants in apples. An apple a day might keep that depression away. In addition to antioxidants, these fruits are full of soluble fiber to balance blood sugar. If you have issues with mood and low sugar, you might want to grab an apple.
  • Eggs: Many medical professionals are split about the healthiness of eggs. Eggs are loaded with vitamin D. Studies have shown a lack of vitamin D can cause depression in some people. Since many Americans lack this vitamin, you might want to go ahead and eat some eggs.  


Choose the Right Foods 

When making changes to your diet, you want to choose foods in their “natural state.” Raw fruits and vegetables are higher in nutrients, and they can have a positive effect on your brain chemistry. Several studies show these foods will boost an individual’s sleep habits, self-esteem, quality of life, and mood. While you always want to eat foods in their natural states, eating some processed vegetables is still acceptable. However, you will want to avoid any processed foods, such as sugary treats and fast food.   

It is easier to pick up a quick meal of burgers and fries, but you need to stick to buying fresh fruits and vegetables. Many people are concerned with the cost of these items. You need to take a look around your community. Farmer’s markets are a great source to pick up some groceries. Frozen vegetables are okay in a pinch, but you should try to incorporate plenty of fresher choices in your diet.  


Maintain a Balanced Diet 

Once you change your diet, you will start to feel better. However, it may take a week or two to see some results. After a few weeks, your mental focus will begin to improve. When you make healthier choices and eat whole foods, your body does not have to break down sugars and processed foods. Those foods are harder to digest and can cause a backup in your gut. With all that energy, you will feel ready to start your day.   

With a healthier diet, you can still have some treats in moderation. If you want to indulge in ice cream or cheesecake, taste a small amount. However, you want to balance that out with vegetables and fruits. By adding healthier foods, you can take this chance to improve your cooking skills. Balance is the most important aspect of your diet. Like drugs and alcohol, foods can affect your mood. When you cut out those bad choices, you will see the positive effects in your life.  

As you can tell, a balanced and healthy diet is important for your mental health. However, not all symptoms of depression and anxiety can be alleviated with fruits and vegetables. You might want to reach out for some help, especially if you are dealing with a substance use disorder. There are treatment programs that can help you manage your addictions and improve your mental health.  


Seek Help With Your Substance Use Disorder 

If you are looking for help with a substance use disorder, you want to find the right program. Granite Recovery Centers has helped those drug- and alcohol-dependent adults throughout the New England area. The addiction treatment center focuses on a blend of the comprehensive 12-step curriculum and evidence-based clinical psychotherapy. Residents receive around-the-clock care, often beginning with detox. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.

Other treatment options we offer are medication-assisted treatments, extended care, primary residential treatment, sober living homes, and intensive outpatient counseling. Along with that, Granite Recovery Center can help with acute stress, social anxiety, panic, schizoaffective, somatic, and post-traumatic stress (PTSD) disorders. You don’t have to suffer in silence with your mental health issues.  

Depending on the client’s needs, mental health treatment options are available on three different tiers, including inpatient, residential, and dual diagnosis. All the mental health programs are based on the 12 steps, and they include peer-to-peer workshops, cognitive-behavioral therapies, and holistic practices. Granite Recovery Centers’ treatment programs focus on healing the body, mind, and spirit. Whether you are struggling with substance use disorders or mental health, you can start your recovery journey at Granite Recovery Centers.