For World Mental Health Day I think its important to remember that our diet is now a recognised modifiable factor in the prevention and treatment of mental illness. In fact the clinical guidelines for the treatment of mood disorders in Australia has described diet as an essential non negotiable factor for treatment. The dietary approach that’s gained attention for its positive impact on mental health is the Mediterranean diet. Packed with nutrient-rich, brain-loving foods, this diet offers a delicious way to support your mood, cognition, and overall mental health
Here are 7 easy foods that can help you get started on your journey to a happier, healthier mind.
- Walnuts: These brain-shaped nuts are a remarkable source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to reduced inflammation and improved cognitive function as well as supporting your gut microbiome. Walnuts taste great when they are toasted and can be easily added to salads and yoghurt.
- Oily Fish: Think salmon, mackerel, and sardines. These fish are packed with omega-3s, making them essential for supporting cognitive clarity and reducing the risk of mood disorders.
- Kefir: A fermented dairy product, kefir promotes a healthy gut microbiome by increasing bacterial diversity which is a key marker of a healthy gut. You can make your own kefir or buy good quality kefir at the supermarket. You can use it in place of yoghurt or add it to smoothies.
- Leafy Greens: Spinach, kale, broccoli, bok chop and other leafy greens are brimming with essential nutrients, such as folate, vitamins, and antioxidants, which support cognitive health and mood regulation.
- Blueberries: With a high content of antioxidants known as flavonoids, blueberries help activate brain pathways associated with better cognition and reduced inflammation.
- Dark chocolate: The polyphenols in cocoa and dark chocolate are associated with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular, mood and other benefits. Milk chocolate doesnt seem to have the same benefits so check the chocolate is a good quality dark chocolate with over 70% cocoa
- Olive Oil: Extra-virgin olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants that protect against cognitive decline and reduces inflammation. Cooking with extra virgin olive oil is safe. It can also be used in place of butter in recipes or as a dressing on a salad or roast vegetables.