Scientists have now uncovered a connection called the gut-brain connection that links the health of your gut with the health of your brain. That has big implications for how we understand mental health. This can also mean that what we put on our plates influences how we think and feel. One of the most interesting areas of research is in something called “psycho-biotics.” They are defined as specific subtypes of probiotics and prebiotics (fibres that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria), which impact the gut bacteria to modify mood, anxiety, and cognitive function.
The theory of it is that if you take these psycho-biotics, i.e. foods that are good for your brain; they will alter the gut microbiome, producing a larger diversity of bugs in the gut that will then produce chemicals that will actually lower things like the stress hormone cortisol or boost the body’s natural levels of serotonin. Hence eating a diet rich in psycho-biotics certainly will not hurt in making your gut — and potentially your brain — a lot happier. Mentioned below are eight foods that can help in improving your mental health too.
Fresh Apple Juice: There are many studies that suggest fresh apple juice protects brain function and mental health as you age. Some of this protection may be due to the antioxidant activity of the polyphenols found in the juice. They may shield your brain from damage by unstable molecules called free radicals. Fresh apple juice also helps maintain brain levels of acetylcholine, a nerve messenger that’s important for memory and good mental health and that tends to decline in ageing.
Nuts and seeds: Both of these are loaded in Omega-3, which is essential for a healthy brain function. Specifically, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and Brazil nuts have lots of Omega 3.
Green leafy vegetables: Consumption of green leafy vegetables may help slow the decline in cognitive abilities with older age, perhaps due to the neuroprotective actions of lutein, folate, β-carotene, and phylloquinone. The addition of a daily serving of green leafy vegetables to one’s diet may be a simple way to contribute to brain health.
Custard apple: It is an excellent source of vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 plays an important role in the creation of neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine, which help regulate your mood. Inadequate levels of this vitamin may contribute to mood disorders. In fact, low blood levels of vitamin B6 are linked to depression, especially in older adults. One study in older adults found that vitamin B6 deficiency doubled one’s chances of depression.
Fermented rice: This is an excellent probiotic which not just heals the gut but also helps in releasing many neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine that can directly affect our mood and mental health.
Broccoli: It is rich in brain-healthy antioxidants like vitamin C and flavonoids. Broccoli also contains compounds called glucosinolates, which the body breaks down into compounds called isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates reduce oxidative stress and lowers the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
Chamomile tea: The active component apigenin in chamomile acts as a natural tranquillizer. The sedative nature of the plant calms nerves and reduces anxiety. Drinking chamomile tea helps as it binds with the benzodiazepine receptors in the brain, acting as a mild sedative and hypnotic agent. It also increases the secretion of serotonin and melatonin hormones in the body that alleviates symptoms of chronic anxiety and stress and treats disorders like hysteria, nightmares, and insomnia. Studies show that drinking chamomile tea on a regular basis helps the mind to get rid of distraught thoughts, reduces mental fatigue, and improves sleeping patterns.
Dates: One of the most promising correlations is between the consumption of dates and the prevention of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Dates help reduce the formation of plaque on the brain. By limiting the reactions of amyloid-beta proteins, dates may help slow the death of brain cells and failing neural pathways.
(The writer is a disease reversal expert based in India. He is the Founder and CEO of Reverse Factor. To know more, call 8100550660 or visit )
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