Today marks an important day; World Mental Health Day. Mental Health in the Workplace is the WHO topic this year, something we here at KSG want to support through providing great food. Feeding your mind with wholegrains, lean protein, nuts, seeds, oily fish, fruit and vegetables helps to contribute to a healthy and happy mind. Mental health problems are often treated with psychiatry and medication, and while using food as treatment can also be very powerful, it is often overlooked. Nutrition research is now revealing more and more about how the gut is connected to our mental health. The health of your mind depends a lot on the health of your gut and this is dependent on the quality of food you feed it. Read on to learn about the foods that can encourage positive mental health.
Wholegrain carbohydrates such as brown rice, pasta and bread help to stabilize blood sugars and supply the brain with a steady stream of fuel, allowing it to work at its best. Refined carbohydrates like cakes, biscuits and white bread cause highs and lows in the blood stream, which can result in mood swings and fatigue.
Proteins such as chicken, turkey, nuts and seeds are all high in an amino acid called tryptophan. This amino acid is transformed to serotonin in the brain, encouraging a positive mood. Eating these foods with a wholegrain carbohydrate can boost the levels of its production. This mechanism is due to insulin released on digestion which puts the competing amino acids to a different use, allowing tryptophan to pass into the brain easily. A roasted chicken fillet on a bed of wholegrain rice is a simple, but mood boosting meal as both foods will work together efficiently.
Oily fish has a high level of essential fatty acids, vital for proper brain functioning. The dry weight of the brain is 60% fat, with 20% of that composed of EFA’s. Omega 3 and 6 perform vital functions in the structuring of brain cells, ensuring smooth communication within the brain. Fish consumption has been reported to result in better moods and a reduced risk of cognitive impairment in middle age.
Leafy greens contain a good mix of vitamins and minerals, which assist essential fatty acids to be incorporated into the brain. The first symptom that the body is deficient in a micronutrient is often psychological. Ensuring an adequate intake of foods like kale, spinach and broccoli can reduce the incidence of depression, irritability, stress and anxiety.
Maintaining a healthy diet and feeding your mind with good food can help to support mental vitality and happiness.