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Food is a wonderful thing. A delicious meal provides our bodies with the necessary energy to function, but it can also inspire happiness and bring back memories. That’s why food is so important in our mission to better our physical and mental health. Eating well positively affects our mood, which can affect our day in positive ways. Additionally, the inverse is also true, where eating poorly can set us up with a bad attitude and low energy. Dietitian and Nutritionist Brierly Horton offers five simple food suggestions to boost mental health.

First Choice Food  

The first mental health boosting food is plants. Horton specifies health plant diets, revolving around fruits, vegetables, and legumes can boost mental health. This is because these types of plants have nutrients and vitamins that help strengthen the body and provide it regulated amounts of energy. Plant based diets, or at least a large plant presence, can help regulate inflammation and blood pressure, lowering risk of heart disease. Additionally, plants help strengthen our metabolism, helping us maintain a healthy weight.

Seafood Eat Food

Next, seafood is recommended as a food that can boost mental health. Specifically, cold water seafood, for example salmon, trout, or tuna to name a few. Cold water seafood is rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Healthy fats help us feel full and are an essential part of a balanced diet. Omega-3 nutrients help with cell construction, allowing vital organs to operate at peak functionality.

Going with the Whole Grain

Third on our list is whole grain. Whole grain foods include oatmeal, quinoa, corn tortillas and whole-wheat bread. Whole grain boosts mental health by helping ward off depression and anxiety. It does this similarly to omega-3s, by providing healthy, high-fiber carbohydrates to the body. This helps you store energy to use throughout the day, while also regulating and maintain digestive health.

Berry, Berry Healthy

Coming in after whole grains are berries. Eating berries can boost mental health in several ways. One way is by being a source of natural sugar. Processed sugar can severely hinder mental and physical health, by being too addictive and throwing the body’s natural functions out-of-whack. On the other hand, natural sugar can help the body regulate blood pressure, regulate digestion, and help with the natural production on insulin.

The other way berries can boost mental health is by being delicious. It may sound silly, but our mood can greatly improve when we eat something we enjoy. Berries can offer an outlet for our sweet tooth while maintaining a healthy diet.

Go Nuts for Walnuts

Last, but certainly not least, are nuts. Nuts and legumes are healthy sources of unsaturated fats and protein, both greatly improve the body’s metabolism and muscle development. Horton and the study she cites specifically mention walnuts as being the number one choice. Walnuts have been linked to better improve intestinal, brain, and reproductive health and prevent weight gain.

When eaten, walnuts produce a compound in our digestive system, known as butyrate, that helps strengthen our natural digestive bacteria. That bacterium is the reason we can digest in the first place. Walnuts can help keep our hearts healthy and have shown signs of being able to help with concentration and memory retention. Walnuts, additionally, have been able to help pregnant women lower their risk of gestational diabetes.

Food for Thought

Food is a great, easy, and effective way to boost mental health. It’s obvious we need food to survive, so why not enjoy the food you eat too. We all love our guilty pleasures and sweet treats, but the fact of the matter is we can’t sustain our own health without proper nutrition. The processed foods we love can have a genuinely negative impact on our physical health and our mental health, make us suffer unnecessary depression, stress, or anxiety. Using simple methods and making easy changes can help us avoid that, and the best way to start is with healthy, delicious food.

The Council for Retirement Security wants every senior to enjoy their retirement to the fullest. By staying healthy physically and mentally, we can ensure a long and happy retired future. Follow the Council’s blog on how to avoid sugar, stay healthy and eat well in retirement.