Nutrition, Key Supplements, Healthy Detox + Removing Life Stressors = Optimal Mental Health!
Did you know you can improve your mental strength, focus and clarity with powerful, whole-foods?
Yes, indeed you can. Food, along with clean water, is the basis of our makeup as human beings. Food, is essentially fuel that provides energy for our amazing body. Therefore, it is imperative to eat real, chemical-free foods from nature that match our natural biochemistry. Our body, moreover our biochemistry, cannot recognize man-made, processed products. In fact, these “food-like” waste particles can contribute to inflammation in the body. Basically, fake “food-like” compounds will impair healing and imbalance our biochemistry. However, by feeding your body the following key foods, you will not only feel more balanced and stable with life stressors, but your brain will essentially be more physically fit. It’s a win-win situation. In this post, I will identify key foods for mental strength and balance, as well as foods that should be eliminated for proper mental function. Lastly, enjoy a yummy smoothie recipe that will promote mental balance.
The Connection Between Inflammation & Mental Health
Certain foods are anti-inflammatory by nature and provide the necessary vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for the growth, regeneration and healing of cells in the body. Because conditions such as depression, anxiety, brain fog, mood instability and schizophrenia are all diseases of inflammation, it is important to understand the basics of inflammation and how to eliminate unnecessary inflammatory stressors in the body. Please read the following posts for more information:
Top Foods for Mental Health
1. Omega 3 Rich Foods with EPA + DHA (fatty fish)
Wild fatty fish like sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon, herring and trout are high in EPA + DHA omega 3’s, which are the makeup of our brain. Look for a fish oil with a higher amount of EPA than DHA–3:1 or higher–because research has shown that EPA is better for anti-depressant and mood stabilizing effects. Because omega 3-rich foods support serotonin production and nerve cell membranes, this makes fatty fish great for fighting inflammation and calming our mood. Read more here.
2. Coconut Oil (MCT’s – medium chain triglycerides)
Coconut oil has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, plus is easily assimilated by the body, being that it is a medium chain triglyceride. Unlike long-chain fatty acids, from plant-based oils, MCT’s can be easily absorbed by our liver, digestive and lymphatic systems. In fact, coconut oil is 90% saturated fat, which is easy for our body to assimilate and convert to energy. Moreover, the liver converts the properties of coconut oil (lauric acid, caprylic acid and capric acid) into ketones, which later becomes fuel for our brain. The high levels of antioxidants present in coconut oil also reduces inflammation. (Axe)
3. Brazil Nuts
Selenium helps create the antioxidant glutathione, which is the body’s master antioxidant. Antioxidants reduce free radicals and inflammation. Selenium also protects the body from toxic heavy metals and is anti-viral. Just 2 shelled Brazil nuts a day is enough selenium for our body’s daily requirements. If consuming bagged and deshelled Brazil nuts, it would be a good idea to consume 3-5 a day for optimal selenium intake. Find out more about selenium here.
4. Grass-Fed Collagen/Gelatin/Bone Broth
Organic, grass-fed collagen, gelatin and bone broth have gut stabilizing effects (help heal the gut) and therefore the gut-brain connection. Without proper digestion and gut function, the gut-brain communication is disrupted. However, because these foods are high in glycine (a calming neurotransmitter/amino acid), they become wonderful mechanisms for healing and repair. On top of this, these foods are great for anti-aging, hair loss, cellulite, skin and are a good source of protein. Find a good brand of collagen here.
5. Turmeric (Curcumin)
This yellow spice, readily used in Indian cuisine, has strong anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. It also helps the liver, is nutrient dense and research has found that just 2 grams a day can outperform the SSRI medication Prozac, readily prescribed for depression. This effect is most likely due to the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric. Add turmeric to foods and supplement. Another spice great for depression is saffron. Find out more here.
6. Foods Rich in Zinc
Pumpkin seeds, sesame, oysters, grass-fed beef, lamb and poultry, shiitake and crimini mushrooms and asparagus are all foods high in zinc. Zinc is anti-inflammatory and needed to make neurotransmitters for mood stabilizing, as well as neurogenesis (regrowth of new neurons). Zinc can help with leaky gut, due to it’s reparative and immune boosting properties. Vegetarians and vegans are usually deficient in zinc because the foods highest in this mineral are animal foods.
7. Fermented Foods
Sauerkraut, kefir, beet kvass, coconut kefir, kombucha, coconut yogurt and organic raw dairy are foods high in probiotics–healthy bacteria. Probiotics actually play a huge role in our body by helping to make neurotransmitters like GABA and serotonin. Moreover, probiotic-rich foods help us digest foods like gluten, and help regulate our entire immune system by combating inflammation. We must feed these good bacteria resistance starch, found in healthy carbohydrate foods like cooked brown rice, black beans, plantains, potato starch, onions, leeks, garlic and Jerusalem artichokes. Note that coconut oil kills pathogenetic bacteria and promotes healthy bacterial balance. Read more here.
8. Leafy Greens (2 cups+/per day)
High in minerals like magnesium, which helps make neurotransmitters like GABA and serotonin, leafy greens are powerful foods for mood and stress balance. Magnesium has a calming effect on body, helps us sleep, helps our body to be more resilient to stress, trauma, psycho-social stressors, work-related stress, burn out, etc. It is recommended to consume at least 2 cups of leafy greens per day. Cacao is also a good source of magnesium. Read more about the health properties of cacao here.
Foods to Avoid for Mental Balance (a.k.a Inflammatory Foods)
- Processed Vegetable Oils
- Man-made Sugars
- Conventional Meat & Dairy
- Genetically Modified Foods (Soy, Corn, Wheat, Sugar)
Typically, low levels of inflammation are present in the brain with mental health issues: anxiety, cognitive disruption, depression, anxiety, due to underlying issues that should be addressed. It’s important to work with a functional medicine doctor, naturopath or specialized nutritionist trained in identifying inflammatory triggers, so that the underlying imbalances can be removed. Stress should also be addressed when reducing inflammation, as stress creates neuroinflammation.
Breakfast Smoothie Recipe for Mental Health
Goal: 20-30 grams of Protein for Mood Stabilization + Healthy Fat (Nut Butters, Coconut Oil, Avocado, Quality Fish Oil, Flax) + Leafy Greens (1-2 cups), which detoxes excess xenohormones & balances hormones.
- 1-2 c. leafy greens
- 1 c. organic berries
- 1-2 tbs. coconut oil
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 1-2 tsp. Maca Powder (great for male & female hormone balance)
- 1 tsp. Acai powder (high antioxidants)
- Plant-Protein Powder (hemp, pea or brown rice)
- Grass-fed Collagen and/or Gelatin Powder (optional)
- filtered water or coconut milk
- 1-2 tbs. ground flaxseed or hempseed
- 2-3 crushed Brazil nuts
- Put all ingredients into your blender (except the Brazil nuts, flax or hempseed) and blend on high until well combined and smooth.
- Pour into a beautiful cup, top with Brazil nuts , flax or hempseeds + extra berries and enjoy!
Wishing you divine health!
*All information, content, and material of this blog is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the diagnosis, and/or medical treatment by a qualified physician.
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“What are the Real Differences Between EPA and DHA?” https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-the-zone/201204/what-are-the-real-differences-between-epa-and-dha
Mathews Larson, J. (2006). Dissolving biochemical depression. Healthy Recovery Center. Retrieved from: http://www.healthrecovery.com/HRC_2006/Depression_06/D_sadness_inside_you.htm
Axe, Dr.”20 Benefits of Coconut Oil for Your Brain, Heart, Joints & More.” retrieved from https://draxe.com/coconut-oil-benefits/