Updated: Mar 20
It has only really been in the past decade that the effects of nutrition on our mental health has really began to be explored and while it is still early days, there is growing evidence that suggests that diet does indeed play a very important role in our mental wellbeing.
Contrary to belief, it is unlikely that low levels of serotonin (The neurotransmitter that is commonly reported as being responsible for mood and what some anti-depressants target ) is what leads to mental health conditions such as depression. Instead, new research is indicating that poor mental health is more likely to be caused by damage to the parts of the brain responsible for emotional regulation. Stress and anxiety can all cause this but fortunately studies have been shown that it can be reversed through a mechanism called Neurogenesis. The term neurogenesis means the formation of new brain cells and it is this process which repairs damage to our brain and in return may potentially help us to strengthen our emotional resilience.
There are several foods which have been shown to promote neurogenesis and improve mental health.
My top 10 recommendations are as follows:
1. Curcumin and Tumeric
2. Oily fish such as mackerel and salmon
3. Green Tea
4. Dark Chocolate
5. Nuts and Seeds
7. Gink Biloba
10. Coffee- With caution as can impact sleep
While changing our diets overnight is highly unlikely, if we can incorporate just one of these food stuffs into our weekly diet, then we will be one step closer to improved brain functioning and potentially better mental health.
In Episode 4 of my podcast I discuss the benefits of nutrition and exercise on mental health with Jackie Allen from Synergy. Listen here: https://youtu.be/P3bUdVy2CSA
If you are interested in this subject, I would also highly recommend reading ‘Holistic Healing for Anxiety, Depression and Cognitive Decline’ by Brant Cortright.