Mental health is still a sensitive topic, although research shows that mental illnesses are common in the United States and worldwide.
Mental disorders affect one in four people yearly. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability.
Mental disorders are a mix of genetics and the environment. Genetics is a complex mechanism that we cannot influence, but we can control to some extent: to slow down the aging process, to put us in a better mood when we’re depressed, to relieve some symptoms associated with brain degeneration (such as Alzheimer disease).
Prevention is really where we can have the largest impact in terms of mental health and food is really something that we can have full ownership over. Food is key to mental health.
Antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables prevent cell damage from free radicals. Omega 3 fatty acids found in nuts and seeds, oily fish such as salmon, other healthy oils found in coconut oil, avocado, olive oil – also feed and protect the brain cells.
The foods that keep our brain healthy can also relieve mental health symptoms, slow down the aging process delaying or mildening the symptoms of some genetic conditions or mental disorders. The right foods can preserve our brain’s health in the long run.
The Alzheimer’s Association advises to „Provide a balanced diet with a variety of foods. Offer vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein foods”.
An article from the Mayo Clinic explores the relationship between foods and neurodegenerative delay. The observational studies suggest that diet can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 53 percent as well as slow cognitive decline and improve verbal memory. The foods that offer the most benefits in dementia prevention include vegetables, especially leafy greens, berries, fish, nuts, beans, whole grains.
Older adults who included the most „brainy foods” in their diets had brains as sharp as people 7.5 years younger. That’s a substantial difference, since delaying dementia by just five years has been suggested to cut the cost and prevalence of the disease in half. Even the adults who included a moderate amount of „brainy foods” in their diet still cut their risk by over a third.
The conclusion? Eating high or moderate amounts of „brainy foods” is key for brain health, benefits ranging from memory boost, alertness, improved cognition, creativity; protect and relieve the symptoms of disorders such as: anxiety, eating disorders, personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders; and on the long term offer brain protection and delay some more serious conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
The key to brain happiness? To develop a better relationship with „brainy foods”: greeny leaves, berries, healthy oils (avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, walnuts, chia seeds), fatty fish rich in omega 3 (salmon), beans and lentils.
Important note: this information is for educational and awareness purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any condition related to mental health. If you consider that you or someone close to you may experience a mental disorder, seek or advise them to seek professional medical help.
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