Though many of us don’t often relate our mental state to what composes our meals, it is an area where huge opportunities exist to improve your mood, relaxation, and general sense of well-being. Did you know that over 90% of the serotonin in your body is produced by your digestive system?
Indeed, what we eat potentially affects our stress levels and mental wellness.
Here are a few examples of specific nutrients that can have a role in our stress and mental wellness:
1. Magnesium – Present in dark, leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds, this mineral is often called the “calm mineral,” since it assists with the relaxation of muscles, reduction in sleep disorders among some populations, and even has positive effects on depression.
2. L-Theanine – An amino acid present in green tea can help with a mind that is “racing” with many thoughts. It even improves cognitive function, which makes life easier. Green tea can be a great coffee substitute. Of course, don’t drink it right before bed because of the caffeine content, but it can be an early afternoon pick-me-up, if you aren’t too caffeine sensitive!
3. Probiotics – The beneficial bacteria that line our intestines help produce helpful chemicals into our blood stream, and there is evidence that these helpful bugs have a positive effect on both depression and anxiety. Eat a mix of fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and yogurt, and/or try a probiotic supplement with a mix of species of helpful bacteria.
4. Omega-3 – These essential fats, present in fish and other seafood (with some small amounts in flax seeds and walnuts) is not only vital for reducing inflammation but can be helpful in reducing depression, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
Remember, food is more software than hardware. Think about the informational/chemical content of your food this week, and try some of these strategies for your mental wellness.
Feel free to stop by the Advanced Wellness Centre in Richmond, VA for a more in-depth, personalized nutritional assessment and coaching sessions to help you set realistic goals! Call 804-673-9355!