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It really is true that you are what you eat. Not only from a weight stand point but from a mental health and stability standpoint. It only makes sense that the natural chemicals in food would alter the natural chemicals in our bodies when consumed right? Below are some of the food and drinks to stay away from and some that you should start consuming  for a healthier physical body and a healthier mental state of mind.

Let’s start with the stuff you should considering cutting or limiting greatly in your diet and why:

Caffeine: High doses of caffeine can induce psychotic and manic symptoms and more commonly, anxiety, according to The National Center for Biotechnology Information. (NCBI) So you ask what about just a regular dose, like a cup of coffee or a cup of black tea a day? It probably won’t hurt you but this is definitely something you want to keep at a minimum especially if you have noticed your mental state not quite being where you would like it to be.

High Fat Foods A.K.A. Trans Fat: We all know the FDA has been a little too lenient with some of the food ingredients allowed in our foods and even they are trying to eradicate trans fats from our food supply by 2018. A 2011 study in the Journal Neurology exposed two scary consequences of eating too much trans fat; less favorable cognitive function and less total  cerebral brain volume. Some things that are high in trans fat to try and steer clear of are: stick margarine, frozen pizza, refrigerated dough, coffee creamer and microwave popcorn to name a few.

Sugar: A 2014 study of 3,663 people at PLoS One linked sugar to poor mental health and depression. This is something we know. Not only is it addictive but it also causes premature aging so why are we still consuming sugar in such massive quantities? They say the average American consumes 150-170 pounds of sugar each year! No wonder we are walking around over weight and depressed!

Processed Foods: So this goes hand in hand with some of the foods we talked about above. Generally when you think of processed foods, you think of things in the frozen meal section of the store and things in boxes likes crackers and cookies. Foods that have gone through a process to be made right? Well often times these products contain MSG to sustain a longer shelf life, as well as an abundance of sodium for flavor and also preservation. A lot of them are also high in trans fats so it’s sort of a triple whammy eating processed foods. All of these food items have proven to have an adverse effect on brain health with MSG in particular over stimulating your neuron receptors which causes a fire of impulses and causes extreme exhaustion. A lot of Chinese foods are made with MSG and it’s also hidden in many different spices, natural flavors and bouillons so maybe think twice next time you reach for a frozen meal instead of a fresh meal, the labels are chalked up with these ingredients.

Now here is a great list of foods with unbelievable benefits for your mental health:

Protein Rich Foods: Including eggs, Greek yogurt, various legumes, lean meats, oats, all kinds of fish and even broccoli and brussel sprouts offer a significant amount of protein. So why is protein significant to our mood? It increases serotonin in our brain and researchers believe that an imbalance of serotonin levels may influence mood in a way that leads to depression.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Now this one tops the list of super foods. I’m sure you have seen it lingering on the list of things you should be eating. Why? Because it’s only in healthy whole foods and it protects against depression. So where can you find this? Fatty fish like Salmon is loaded with it, you can also find it in flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts.

Selenium Rich Foods: Some selenium rich foods are oysters, clams, whole grains, nuts, fish, lean meats and low-fat dairy products. When we do not  have enough selenium in our diets we can become irritable and tired.

Mediterranean Diet: Ah alas, the long sought after Mediterranean diet. When you see the word diet we aren’t referring to a diet as in Weight Watchers or Nutri-System, we’re talking about an entire way of eating that a lot of Mediterranean cultures follow. The reason why it has been deemed so healthy is because of all of the foods we listed above, it has very little processed foods, is full of high protein, selenium rich foods, is low in sugar and includes many items like fish and nuts that are high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Some food items used a lot in Mediterranean diets are fish, legumes, fruits, veggies and whole grains. Give it try, you just may find yourself in a better mood because of it.

Do you have some good or bad foods that you think should be on this list that contribute to mental health? Please share in a comment below.