We’re not saying a healthy diet is the cure to mental illness but it certainly helps and it’s an incredibly easy and overlooked treatment. Diet and lifestyle goes amiss when thinking about problems such as anxiety, brain fog, stress and general cognitive problems but it really can help.
Mental health costs the NHS £77bn each year, with one adult in six having a common mental disorder.
The root of a mental problem is complex and we’re not saying simple dietary changes will fix the issue but it will certainly provide your brain all the nutrients it needs and ensure healthy function. So in this way it will help. Like anything else we should take active steps in maintaining our cognitive health
A large amount of the fat in the brain (60%) is made up of EFAs or essential fatty acids, named as ‘essential’ because they must be achieved through diet as it cannot naturally be made internally.
The brain needs these EFAs to function properly and many diets deprive the brain of this which leads to memory decline, or “even Alzheimer’s” as Delia McCabe writes in the Daily Mail.
McCabe explains, “To function at its best, your brain needs healthy forms of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.”
Without these fats cell membranes become rigid, meaning the smooth communication between cells is impaired. McCabe compares this communication to “talking on a very bad phone line”. Including fats in your diet will ensure cell membranes are supple and elastic, ensuring proper and healthy brain function.
Brain cells connect to neurotransmitters via synapses. EFAs ensure neurotransmitters are released optimally so messages are clear. The brain is unforgiving as If any part of this electrochemical current is interrupted the thought or memory will diminish or be left incomplete.
With this in mind, here are some of the best foods to ensure you have a healthy brain!
The Best Brain Foods
We couldn’t leave the much-loved superfood off the list! Rich in vitamin B6 which aids melatonin production and also omega 3 fatty acids.
Full of vitamins (C, K and the Bs) as well as minerals (calcium, potassium, copper, magnesium, folate, manganese and zinc) plus fibre and many plant nutrients.
High in fatty acids and selenium which is important in maintenance of most cognitive functions. A super antioxidant which protects polyunsaturated fats from oxidation.
A fatty fruit, it’s high monounsaturated fats aid a healthy blood flow which is needed for a healthy brain. Monounsaturated fats help keep the cell membranes flexible and protect nerve cells. It’s also packed with other nutrients and vitamins to promote healthy bodily function.
One of the best sources of zinc which helps prevent neurodegeneration by maintaining a healthy brain. Also rich in essential fatty acids to ensure smooth cellular communication, promoting brain function.
The yolks contain choline which is needed for nerve fibre protection, as well as high in vitamin Bs and iron to encourage healthy cognitive function.
The high content of flavonoids in raw cacao which has powerful antioxidant effects. It increases blood flow to the brain and boost the production of endorphins.
Wait, what on earth are legumes? They’re basically the edible parts in a plant. Peas, beans and lentils for example.
Nutritionally dense, legumes are full of vitamins and minerals and phytonutrients many of which boost brain powder. They’re high in fibre which supports a healthy body and brain.
Incorporating a healthy amount of fats into your diet will do wonders in ensuring a healthy and well functioning brain. The modern trend has been to cut out fats due to the fact they’re more calorie dense than carbs and protein but they’re essential in brain maintenance and depriving the body of these important fats will inevitably lead to cognitive decline.