Healthy meals for your mental health

A proper nutrition is essential for our mental health. A number of mental health conditions may be influenced by our food choices.

Healthy meals for your mental health

One of the most obvious, yet under-recognised factors in the development of our mental health is the role of nutrition. Healthy meals play an important role in the development and prevention of particular mental health problems such as depression, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Healthy meals for your mental health should include adequate amounts of complex carbohydrates, essential fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, and water.

Healthy meals such as fish, fruits, and vegetables can be more expensive. By avoiding sugary drinks, snacks, and alcohol, you can save money so you can buy healthier foods.

Frozen fruit and vegetables are often not as expensive as the fresh ones, and are usually just as good nutritionally. When in season, fresh fruit and vegetables are usually cheapest. Beans, lentils, and soy are also cheaper than meat, being just as nutritious as meat.

Make sure you have at least three meals per day to maintain blood sugar levels. Skipping meals, especially breakfast, leads to low blood sugar, resulting in low mood, irritability, and tiredness. If you feel hungry between meals you may need to include a healthy snack like fruit, nuts, and cereals.

Eat less high sugar foods and more wholegrain cereals, nuts, beans, lentils, fruit and vegetables.

Sugary foods are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. As a result you will get an initial high energy level that soon wears off as the body increases its insulin production – you will be feeling tired.

Wholegrain cereals, fruit, and vegetables are more filling and, because the sugar in these foods is absorbed more slowly, don’t cause mood swings.

These foods are more nourishing as they contain thiamin (B1), a vitamin that has been associated with control of mood, and folic acid and zinc (supplements of these nutrients have been shown to improve the mood of people with depression).

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Choose rye, whole-grain bread, oats, corn cakes, brown rice, and wholegrain cereals.

Aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Green vegetables should be steamed and should not be overcooked or you will lose much of the vitamin content.
Avoid sugar and sugary drinks, cakes, and sweets. These are loaded with calories but have little nutritional value and may generate mood swings because of their sugar content.

Include protein at every meal to ensure an uninterrupted supply of the amino acid tryptophan to the brain, which is believed to influence mood.

Opt for meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, nuts, beans, and lentils.

Include (oily) fish in your diet. Researchers suggest that omega 3 oil supplements may diminish symptoms in people with depression.

Eat a wide variety of foods to ensure you obtain all the micronutrients you need.

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