It’s perfectly normal to feel depressed. In fact, at least three million people in the U.S. alone have experienced depression in the past year alone. Worldwide, the number of those who’ve experienced issues with their mental health amidst the pandemic swells to almost one billion. That said, while experiencing a few dips is normal, it's important to realize that you can do something about it.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to boost your mental health is through the food you eat. Just as food can help you flourish physically, it can do the same for you mentally! So, if you’re looking to improve your mental health naturally, here are some ways you can make use of food and eating to do so:
1. Consume more gut-friendly food
Through the vagus nerve, the gut and brain can send each other messages. These can include signals relating to emotional behaviors. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the gut has countless bacteria that can produce various neurochemicals. They are in turn, used by the brain to regulate dozens of processes, including mood.
Up to 95% of the body’s serotonin (a happy hormone!) comes from gut bacteria. Thus, to help your body create more mood stabilizers, it’s important to eat gut-friendly foods. These include leafy greens and low-fructose fruit, both of which contain substances that encourage the growth of good gut bacteria.
To take the guesswork out of determining what’s gut-friendly, try our Bumpin Blends with greens, berries, and bananas (like Acai Banana or Blueberry Blues). Each cube is also packed with organic ingredients, so you can be sure there aren’t any pesky additives that may irritate your gut.
2. Boost your antioxidant intake
In a previous post about antioxidants and anxiety, we made note of something experienced dietitians have long studied: oxidative stress. When the body experiences oxidative stress, there’s an imbalance between free radical and antioxidant activity. This can lead to a slew of diseases which include mood disorders. As such, it’s important that you consume foods that are both antioxidant-rich and effective in helping the body produce more antioxidants.
Foods that fit this description include kale, onions, garlic, and shallots. But since these are particularly pungent foods that aren’t the easiest to consume in larger quantities, you can try drinking them instead. Our Bumpin Blends make it easy to do this, since each smoothie cube is packed with different antioxidants without added sugar. This way, you can better support your body’s free radical expulsion without unnecessary glucose.
3. Consult a nutritional expert
Numerous studies have proven the link between nutrient deficiency and mental disorders. Meanwhile, a recent review of 10 countries noted that those with a higher intake of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and healthy fats are at reduced risk for depression.
These are telling findings. However, since not all bodies and lifestyles are the same, it’s still best to consult an expert who can help you best incorporate nutritious foods into your meals, like a registered dietitian.
Through professional guidance of this kind, you can develop a meal plan that works optimally for the unique needs of your mind and body.
4. Practice mindful eating
If eating has become a crutch during stressful moments, you may also want to try practicing mindful eating. This involves paying more attention to how and what you eat. This way, you can form a healthier relationship with food.
To start, nutritionists often recommend keeping a food journal. In said journal, try to write details about the food you’ve eaten and how you ate it. There’s no need to get obsessive about this –– but do try to be specific so that you (and the health and nutrition expert you’re working with) can gain clear insight to your habits. After a while, you’ll be able to identify unhealthy food triggers, which you can then address. What’s more, you can also use your journal to track which foods your body and mind react to better.
You are what you eat, so it’s no surprise that the better you eat and the more positive your relationship with eating is, the healthier you’ll be. Using food and nutrition to boost your mental health may not create immediate results. But with consistency, it begins a healthy ripple effect of wellness that you’ll enjoy for years to come.
Written by Reese Jones for bumpinblends.com