Food to help enhance mental wellness

Written by: Jannie Melis

As we all know or should know that the correct food & diet can help boost physical and mental wellness. I hope that with the following information you will be able to strengthen & improve your and your loved one’s mental wellness.

Before we go into all the detail and general information about what food is best please remember that just cooking and having a meal for or with a loved one is just as or even more important to bolster our mental wellbeing.

Whilst deciding what to cook can be a challenge, always try to use foods that are high in DHA (Omega-3 fatty acids) & high in Tryptophan (serotonin), I will endeavour to explain further on what each of the before mentioned items can do and achieve for a better mental wellness as well as how to make them taste better for us that are food snobs.

DHA is an Omega-3 fatty acid, which helps improve both short and long-term memory, contributing to optimal brain health. Additionally, a diet high in Omega 3 fatty acids can also help to boost feelings of mental health and wellness and reduce levels of anxiety. You can find DHA in ‘oily’ fish such as salmon, trout and prawns, or if you’re not keen on seafood, a fish oil supplement but fish and prawns can taste so much better than a fish oil supplement.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid needed for general growth and development and the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is believed to play an important role in regulating sleep and mood. You can find Tryptophan in chicken, turkey, red meat, pork, tofu, fish, beans, milk, nuts, seeds, oatmeal, and eggs. The recommended daily intake for tryptophan is 4mg per kilogram of body weight and as a result of this taking a tryptophan supplement can be harmful so its better to stick to natural foods.

So the following is a list of foods that would be great to include in your diet for a stronger and better mind.

Most seafoods especially salmon, trout, prawns, mackerel, shrimp and even oyster are great (which I personally love)

Poultry as long as its lean; like turkey, chicken game birds and such- stay away from duck for now.

Leafy greens are great as well like Spinach, kale and collard greens.

Red meat that is low in fat like beef skirt, fillet, venison & lean pork

Fruits & Vegetables: all fruits and vegetables are great and try to increase your daily intake.

Plain Yogurts are great, you want the enzymes from them

Wholegrains and different legumes such as; oats, chickpeas, lentil, kidney beans & soybean products such as tofu and the like.

Most nuts and seeds such as walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, pine nuts, flax seeds & chia seeds which can be great as snacks throughout the day.

Sweet potato is also a great item to use.

Fermented foods: diets high in fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, yoghurt, Kafir and kombucha experienced reductions in negative emotions such as moodiness, worry, envy and fear.

Dark chocolate is a nice snack for the chocolate and desert lovers.

Sugar, caffeine, processed meats, fast food and fried food and bread are items to stay away from if struggling with mental wellness

Below are a few ideas for great tasting meals

Smoked Salmon Scrambled eggs

Cooked oats with fresh berries and banana

Plain yoghurt with fresh berries, nuts and banana

Asian poached prawns with fried tofu on steamed pakchoi with toasted pine nuts.

Seared salmon trout, wilted kale sauté kidney beans, and a poached shrimp salsa

Grilled Cajun Turkey breast on a Chickpea and spinach salad

Grilled Lean Beef Skirt served with Sweet potato chips, Oven Roast Vegetables and a Tomato salsa 

Whole grilled herring on a bed of spicy lentils and stir-fried vegetables

Lean pork fillet with sauerkraut, sweet potato mash and a mustard sauce.

Fresh fruit dipped in melted dark chocolate (like fondue)

Dark chocolate, nuts and berries are great to snack on

And green tea is also a good drink to have.

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