More research is finding that a nutritious diet isn't just good for physical health; it's essential for mental health, too. A few tips for supporting balanced brain chemistry:
Choose high fibre carbs: These will provide a steady supply of glucose to the brain, keeping mood stable. Choose oats, rye bread, brown rice, brown noodles, new potatoes in skins, quinoa, sweet potato, lentils and beans
Protein: eat good quality protein which each meal. Proteins provide the raw materials for the brain, which help to regulate thoughts and feelings. Protein foods include poultry, lean meats, fish, dairy, eggs, beans and pulses and nuts and seeds.
Eat a RAINBOW: a variety of deeply coloured fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants that help to protect brain cells and neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain) from free radical attack. Eat some with every meal and snack.
Healthy fats: choose oily fish, avocado, nuts (especially walnuts and almonds) and seeds (sunflower, pumpkin and flaxseed) to support a healthy mind. Avoid fats labelled as ‘trans’ and ‘partially hydrogenated’, usually found in cakes, pastries, biscuits and snack foods, as these can be damaging to the brain.
Drink water: keep your body hydrated to keep your mind clear and your concentration sharp. Beware of your caffeine intake: caffeine is a stimulant which can give a short-lived energy rush but then may leave you feeling low and anxious.
Try this brain-tastic breakfast smoothie as a great start to your day:
Brain-food breakfast smoothie:
120g frozen, pitted cherries
150ml plain yoghurt
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
1tbsp Montmorency cherry concentrate (optional)
150ml water or almond milk
Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Add additional fluid if required.