3 Foods to Help Promote Mental Health

Each year, 43.8 million Americans will suffer from some form of mental illness. (1) In more recent years, research has shown that diet can play a major role in promoting a positive mental state. A well-balanced diet has been shown to lower your risk of depression by as much as 35%! Now the question becomes what is considered a healthy diet? A number of foods contain essential nutrients that have been shown to support mental health by combatting inflammation and supporting holistic wellbeing. Below are three foods that support superior mental health due to very different reasons.

Salmon

Salmon is a fatty fish, which means it contains a number of essential fatty oils. Fish oil contains the omega 3s EPA and DHA which have been shown to support a number of functions in our body. One benefit of consuming fish omega 3s is that it combats inflammation. (2) Excess inflammation chronically built up in your body has been shown to affect mood, reduce mental clarity, and increase risk of depression and anxiety. An interesting fact about fish oil is that it has begun to be used to co-treat mental disorders with positive results. (3) Not feeling yourself? Salmon is a good source to help bring you back to yourself!

Oats

Oats are one of the best foods you can consume for a variety of reasons. They are packed with fiber, which helps to fill you up and keep you fuller for longer, while also reducing blood sugar spikes to help prevent the risk of diabetes. There are two types of fiber found in oats, and the soluble fiber found in oats also serves another purpose beyond just filling you up. It functions as the food for the good bacteria in your gut to support a healthy gut microbiome. When whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are consumed, their strains thrive and produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs help to reduce inflammation in the gut. (4) Gut inflammation has been shown to increase inflammation in the brain through a relationship call the bi-directional gut axis. This inflammation is linked to increased risk of most mental illness and can exacerbate your symptoms. (5)

Dark Chocolate

Yes, chocolate is good for mental health. Specifically, it has been shown to be most effective at improving mood and combating symptoms of depression. (6) It is important to note that when consuming chocolate, we always recommend dark chocolate, specifically those that are defined as containing at least 72% cacao. Cacao is the component of chocolate that contains all the awesome antioxidants that people believe support the associated health benefits. Milk and white chocolate are not good at high levels, as they are high in fats and sugar. At 72% or better, you can still enjoy the flavor while receiving the benefits

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