As the neural powerhouse of our body, a healthy mind plays a fundamental role in our overall health. A growing body of research is investigating the impact of a healthy mind on supporting a healthy body and vice versa. Stress and poor mental health can impact the body in a number of ways, and similarly the way we look after our bodies can influence how well we cope and manage this stress.
Dr Andrew McCulloch, from the Mental Health Foundation says “one of the most obvious, yet under-recognised factors in … mental health is the role of nutrition.” We are so quick to make the connection between eating bad chicken and an upset stomach, or too much alcohol and a suffering liver – but we tend not to be so aware of how the foods we eat are impacting our brain.
Top tips to maintain a healthy mind:
- Eat a healthy balanced diet with good quality nutrients including protein (eg. chicken, lean meat, fish, fish oil supplement, eggs, beans and legumes), complex carbohydrates (eg. kumara, broccoli, brown rice and potato), healthy fats (eg. avocado, salmon, walnuts, chia seeds) and a large variety of vegetables. Whole foods help to provide nutrients which are required for optimal brain function, as well as protecting the cells.
- Maintain good gut health. Up to 95% of our serotonin (happy hormone) is produced in our gut. It makes sense then that the health of our gut can directly impact our mood and mental health. Taking steps to address gut health can make a surprising impact for maintaining a healthy mind.
- Hydrate. The brain is made up of 75-80% water. Effects of dehydration can include irritability, loss of concentration, and reduced efficiency. Preventing dehydration is one of the most simple steps to maintain good mental health.
- Breathe diaphragmatically to help bring down stress levels. When we breathe into our chest, this is the way we breathe when we are running or in danger – this sends a message to the body to produce stress hormones. When we breathe into our stomach, this sends a message to our body that we are safe and don’t need to pump the stress hormones in order to survive.
- Consider supplements to help with stress management. Magnesium and B vitamins can be a great starting point. Magnesium may help to support the nervous system and help get a more restorative sleep. B vitamins are involved in many reactions in the body and may be more readily depleted when we are stressed. Herbs such as ashwagandha may help adapt the body to cope with stress better. For more information about supplements which may be right for you, please get in touch with one of our consultants.
Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for educational purposes only. Please do not use this information to diagnose or treat any health concerns you may have. This information is not intended to replace the advice given to you by a qualified health professional. Get in contact with a Tonic Health consultant or a relevant health professional if you need guidance on your individual health journey.