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Achieving Mental Wellness Through Nutrition: The Role of a Healthy Diet
Our brains are remarkable organs. While they manage fundamental yet intricate tasks like regulating your heartbeat, respiration, and motor functions, they also oversee numerous intricate processes, including the creation of thoughts and emotions. This highly advanced machine, operating ceaselessly, unquestionably requires a source of energy to function. The sustenance you provide to your diligent brain comes in the form of the food and beverages you consume.
Much like any other machine, the efficiency of your brain’s operations is directly linked to the quality of the fuel it receives.
Foods that are rich in vital nutrients such as complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants play a crucial role in stabilizing blood sugar levels and enhancing your brain’s vitality. When it comes to nourishing the brain, the results you experience correspond to the nutritional investments you make.
Selenium is a vital mineral crucial for various fundamental bodily functions. Research indicates that individuals with insufficient selenium intake in their diets may experience an increased risk of depression, irritability, and anxiety. However, it’s important to note that excessive selenium consumption can be toxic. According to the National Institute of Health, the optimal daily selenium intake for adults aged 19 and older is 55 mcg.
Brazil nuts are the most abundant dietary source of selenium. A single ounce (equivalent to approximately 7 or 8 nuts) contains a substantial 544 mcg of selenium, making just two or three Brazil nuts per day more than sufficient to meet your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of selenium. Alternatively, you can reach the 55 mcg target with 3 to 4 ounces of foods like halibut, roasted ham, or shrimp. Moderate amounts of selenium are also found in cottage cheese, roast chicken, oatmeal, and eggs, typically ranging from 10 to 20 mcg per serving.
Folate (Folic Acid)
Research has demonstrated that an increased intake of folate or folic acid is associated with a reduced risk of depression. Folate is present in a wide range of foods, with spinach, liver, yeast, asparagus, and brussels sprouts containing the highest concentrations. You can also attain the recommended daily intake of 400 mcg of folate by consuming avocado, peanuts, orange juice, leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale, and whole grains, among various other food sources.
Dopamine and serotonin are neurotransmitters in the brain that influence mood regulation. Serotonin serves as a natural mood stabilizer, while dopamine governs feelings of pleasure and reward. Omega-3 fatty acids possess anti-inflammatory properties and impact the transmission of dopamine and serotonin. Additionally, omega-3 plays a significant role in brain development and function, contributing to mood stability. Foods rich in omega-3 include salmon, walnuts, soybeans, and chia seeds.
Numerous other nutritious foods can serve as valuable brain fuel, promoting optimal performance and emotional well-being. Utilizing this list as a guide to improving your dietary habits is a commendable step in the right direction.
If you are contending with a mood disorder and seek support and guidance to lead a more balanced life, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office. We can arrange a discussion to explore your options further.
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