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Mental Health and Nutrition

May is Mental Health Awareness Month!

The theme this month for mental health awareness is “Fitness #4Mind4Body”. The idea is that mental health is affected by many factors including sleep, diet and nutrition, exercise and stress, and that positive changes can be made in all of these areas.

Up the Omega-3s in your diet

The Omega-3 fatty acids that are particularly beneficial for your mental and brain health are found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies and herring. They can also be found in smaller quantities in algae and seaweed. 

You can either buy line caught, eco-friendly sources of fish from Greenspoon or you can buy the supplements from Healthy U. Algae pills are on the market for Vegans. But fish also contains vitamins, minerals, other fats, and other substances that may work with the omega-3s to protect our overall health.

The benefits of fish far outweigh the potential risks from contaminants, especially if you eat it in moderation (two servings a week) and vary the types of fish. Small, shorter-lived fish lower in the food chain, such as sardines and mackerel, accumulate less toxins.

A diet of fatty fish can prevent or help both depression or bipolar disorder and may be effective in stabilising mood and enhancing the effectiveness of conventional antidepressants.

Slow release carbohydrates

Choose slow release carbs like sweet potato and wholegrains instead of pasta and rice to keep your blood sugar levels steady

 

 

 

Stay Hydrated

Drinking lots of water and non sugary drinks will help keep you full and stop you from raiding the fridge. 70% of our bodies are made up of water so it is essential to the normal functioning of our cells.

 

 

 

 

Plan Meals in Advance

When you are out of time and in a rush, it’s much more difficult to eat healthily. Plan meals in advance and food prep as much as possible. I make a big batch of food on a Sunday, as well as healthy snacks such as hummus and rice cakes for the week.

 The Gut-Brain Axis

Gut bacteria are key players in your mood and mental health. They can relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress, as long as you are eating healthily.


Unhealthy, processed foods can disrupt the delicate balance in our guts and allow the bad bacteria to multiply. That’s why it’s important to eat lots of gut friendly foods such as kombucha, kefir, kimchi and miso, as well as plenty of vegetables (eat the rainbow), which they feed on. A balanced microbiome can improve stress resilience and are even linked to IBS and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Eat lots of dark, green leafy vegetables

Sukuma, spinach, Cavolo Nero and swiss chard are your friends! We all know dark leafy greens are good for us, but did you know they are brain protective? Chock full of antioxidants, phytonutrients and vitamins, they are an essential part of keeping our minds happy and healthy.

 

 

Lean Proteins and legumes

Lean proteins, in the form of chicken, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, help you to think and react quickly. Beans and lentils are excellent sources of plant protein and have been shown to be beneficial for our mental health.

A brief note on exercise

Exercise is an essential pillar in maintaining our mental health, not just physical health. Exercise improves our mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative moods and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Exercise has also been found to help reduce feelings of low self-esteem and social withdrawal.

A big thank you to Alice Coulson, who was a big inspiration on this blog! Please see her other blogs and thoughts through this link!

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