Healthy Nutrition for a Healthy Mind
“You are what you eat”, as the age-old saying goes.
Did you read those words, then immediately think about how you look? If you did, don’t worry. This is a common response for a lot of people. Many of us believe that as long as we’re keeping to our daily calorie count, then we can eat whatever we like. Yet with mental health disorders on the increase, perhaps we should focus more upon how the food we eat affects our minds, rather than just our bodies.
Antidepressant use is rising fast. You probably know at least one person who uses prescribed medication to help them manage their daily lives. The common symptoms of brain chemistry imbalance include increased anxiety, insomnia, a lack of concentration and poor memory, amongst many other limiting issues.
Medication offers us tempting promises to correct the imbalance in our brains and help us manage stress – fast. However, in a lot of cases medication will only mask our problems, not cure them.
Your brain must be fed the right daily fuel in order to function as it was designed to, and a lack of essential nutrients may be a key contributor to brain dysfunction. Alcohol and caffeine can also throw us off our natural balance, particularly when we rely on that morning espresso to jump-start ourselves into the day!
Unfortunately, typical Western diets, comprised largely of processed foods, are almost certainly not supplying us with the essential nutrients we need. When we arm our bodies and our minds with the right nourishment every day, we can naturally help our mood and improve our ability to withstand stress, anxiety, and numerous other mental health issues.
One common problem is that in the fast-moving world we live in, we can become trapped in a vicious circle of stress or sadness, eating the foods we love to make ourselves feel better and to gain a temporary ‘hit’. Such foods, for example crisps or chocolate, tend to be calorie-rich and of poor quality.
Our adrenal (stress) glands have to do a lot of work, and they need vital support from the food we eat. If we don’t provide that support, then guess what? We go back to feeling stressed, and the vicious circle begins again.
The essential brain foods we need include B vitamins found in green leafy vegetables, magnesium, zinc, calcium and potassium. Essential fatty acids (EFAs), such as those found in salmon, are not made naturally in the body, so we have to eat them ourselves – and they are vitally important.
Most people are deficient in EFAs, yet they benefit us in so many ways, helping to protect our brains against degenerative diseases and increasing emotional intelligence.
The simple solution lies in nutritional balance. Eat slow-releasing wholefoods with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, proteins and oily fish, and reduce your intake of processed foods. To help digestion, eat little and often if you can, rather than three meals overloaded with food.
Finally, make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep and exercise!
While there are no shortcuts to living a healthier life, the benefits are more than worth the effort. As a qualified and experienced nutritional therapist, I offer personalised and achievable plans that will help you reach your health goals. Contact me today for a free consultation.
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