Foods that can boost your brain and your mental health

Learn how I beat Depression

Nutrition and the role that a good diet can play in keeping your mind healthy, has been hitting the headlines lately. Eating the right foods is essential for keeping your brain in good working order and to keep your spirits high.

To feel good we really need to have a steady flow of the feel good neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin in order to sustain our mood. However, too many people choose junk food over healthy food to get a quick fix, and this is probably because sugary snacks can release chemicals in the brain that are similar to the chemicals released by taking drugs.

Yes, we are literally addicted to junk food. However, that isn’t going to do much to keep our mental health intact because although it works in the short term as we get a massive surge of dopamine, it will be short lived and leave us feeling down in the dumps and dopey when the levels fall, not to mention obese if we make a habit of it.

There are a number of different healthy things you can eat on a regular basis to lift your mood, ward off depression, and boost your powers of concentration and improve your memory at the same time.

In order to keep our brains functioning well we need Omega 3 essential fatty acids which will help to build and maintain myelin which in turn ensures that we have good cell signalling in the brain. There have now been countless studies which have shown how beneficial Omega 3 fish oil can be for keeping our brains in good working order.

Fish oil contains Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) both of which are required for health brain development and function. Making sure you eat fresh fish regularly or by taking a daily dose of fish oil you can boost your powers of concentration, improve your mood, and help prevent depression.

As a recent article in the Daily Mail pointed out, another way of making sure we get plenty of dopamine is to supply our brains with precursors of dopamine, one of which is Phenylalanine. Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid which turns into tyrosine, which is necessary for making brain chemicals such as dopamine as well as others. A lack of phenylalanine in the diet has been linked with depression, decreased concentration and poor memory. Foods which contain phenylalanine include beef, chicken, fish, dairy produce, soy products, and some nuts and seeds.

For good memory we also need to have enough of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Low levels of acetylcholine have been associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. One of the best sources of Acetylcholine is eggs so make sure you include them in your diet but other foods that can boost Acetylcholine levels include liver, brassicas like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, nuts, and fatty fish.

Learn how I beat Depression

1 Comment

  1. Ani
    Posted August 26, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    It is really fantastic that you are writing about your experiences and about food for mental health. Nutrition for the brain is my specialist area of interest, I am passionate about it – after my BSc I went on to complete an MSc in Nutritional Medicine and have also studied some postgraduate courses more recently. I aim to write scientifically referenced pieces of work to try and get the evidence out into the public domain. Please do visit my website if you are interested in reading about the research that is accumulating.

    Thanks again for sharing your personal story. It is inspirational.

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