Eat your way to better mental wellness

The brain is the most complex organ in our body. To function optimally our brain needs the right balance of macro and micronutrients and stimulation to thrive. This includes good social support, physical activity, intellectual stimulation, sufficient sleep, relaxation, and, of course, a good diet.

So, what does Christine recommend NHS staff consider in their diets?

Get in more healthy fats

The human brain needs essential fatty acids and phospholipids to function optimally. The essential omega-3 fats (which have to be obtained from our diet) are particularly important for brain function, memory, performance and mood.1

Good sources include oily fish, chia seeds, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds and walnuts.

Focus on protein

Protein provides you with the building blocks required for the production of our chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) that influence how we think and feel.2 Protein also helps stabilise your blood sugar, which can influence mood swings and concentration levels.

Good protein foods include lean red meat, poultry, eggs, fish and shellfish, soy, beans, pulses, nuts, seeds and dairy.

Ditch sugar and processed foods

Sugar and processed foods can lead to inflammation throughout the body and brain, which may contribute to mood disorders, including anxiety and depression. Imbalances in blood sugar levels can also make us feel ‘hangry’ and irritable.

Instead focus on slow releasing carbohydrates like wholegrain rice and pasta, oats, quinoa, buckwheat, sweet potato, carrots, swede, parsnip, butternut squash, baked potato, peas, beans and lentils.

Beyer, J., & Payne, M.E. (2016). Nutrition and Bipolar Depression. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 39(1), 75–86.
Moret C & Briley M. The importance of noradrenaline in depression. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2011; 7(Suppl 1): 9–13.

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