Not many realize that eating a balanced diet goes beyond helping your physical needs – it can also benefit your mental health too!
Studies show nutrition can play a key role in the onset as well as severity and duration of depression. And because 80-90% of the serotonin is made in the gut your diet has a tremendous impact on well-being, mood and energy!
A few small changes can make the difference between staying home due to lack of energy and motivation, and going to work everyday and successfully accomplishing your daily goals.
So what nutrients are important to enhance your mental health and well-being?
Adequate protein intake throughout the day is essential for stabilizing energy and mood. For optimal brain function, consuming protein provides important amino acids, which make up the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, essential in mood regulation.
Good sources include poultry, fish, red meat, eggs, nuts/seeds, nut butters, beans, Greek-yogurt, and cottage/ricotta cheese.
Common symptoms of B12 deficiency include fatigue, anemia and nerve damage. Studies indicate that borderline levels of vitamin B12 can lead to cognitive decline.
Good sources include meat, poultry, eggs, milk and other dairy products.
Low blood folate levels have been linked to long-term depression. Folate has a critical role in the brain’s metabolic pathway and studies indicate that supplementation enhanced mood therapy.
Good sources include dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, sunflower seeds, and legumes.
Iron deficiency is the most prevalent single-nutrient deficiency worldwide, which has adverse consequences including fatigue, depression and anxiety.
Anemia caused by iron deficiency is associated with apathy, depression, and fatigue when exercising.
Good sources include beef, chicken liver, poultry, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Since a large percentage of your brain is composed of fat, it is essential to include the omega 3 fat DHA to maintain a well-nourished brain.
Research indicates that having a deficiency of omega 3 fats along with an excess of omega 6 fats may be responsible for increases in depressive symptoms. Omega 6 fats are oils, which are considered pro-inflammatory in the body including soybean, corn, and most vegetable oils.
Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish, fish oil, walnuts, and ground flax seeds.
While mood and energy challenges are complex, taking a look at these 5 nutrients is a bridge towards the health you desire.
Doing so will be the key to starting your energy engine for life. Plus you will not need to audition to be in the Blue Man Group Show in Las Vegas.
This blog was co-written by Susan Dopart and RD intern Jessayra Tarrio