Brain Foods: The Link between Mental Health and What You Eat
Depression and anxiety disorders are no joke. Often misunderstood or undiagnosed, these emotional disorders can lead to a severe decline in your quality of life. Instead of ignoring them or medicating, a proper diet with “brain food” may be the key to better mental health. Foods that help with depression often have additional health benefits as well.
Your brain needs nutrients like vitamins (especially B1, B9, B12, D, and E), omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, magnesium and fiber. Fatty fish, animal proteins, nuts and leafy greens are among the top foods to include in your diet. Probiotic foods are also high on the list, for the impact they have on physical, mental and emotional health.
10 Probiotic Foods for Depression and Anxiety
Here are the top probiotic foods that help with depression and anxiety:
- Yogurt – Everyone’s favorite probiotic food, yogurt is packed with the friendly lactobacillus bacteria found in milk and cheese. It’s great for improving and regulating digestive health, but also helps with anxiety and depression. Avoid artificially sweetened or flavored yogurt, though.
- Kefir – This fermented drink can be made from cow, sheep and goat milk as well as coconut, soy, almond and other vegan milks. Rich in probiotic bacteria (from the milk and yeast), it also contains the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose. This makes it the perfect alternative for those who are lactose intolerant.
- Soft Cheese – Swiss, Gouda, Cheddar and raw cottage cheese are rich sources of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium probiotics. These soft fermented cheeses encourage the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, promoting better gastrointestinal function as well as easing depression and anxiety.
- Dark Chocolate – Yes, dark chocolate is loaded with bifidobacterium probiotics, which help improve physical and mental health. Along with heart and stomach issues, these probiotic bacteria also play an important role in easing depression and anxiety, so indulge in this delicious treat more often!
- Red Wine – When you want a drink, have a glass of red wine with dinner. Taken in moderation, red wine has been linked to reducing heart and stomach problems for a while now. However, recent research has found that it can also help with emotional health, especially depression and anxiety.
- Miso Soup – Miso is made from fermented soybeans, and can be turned into soup or used to flavor dishes. It’s known for helping to ease digestive disorders and improving gastrointestinal health, but research on probiotics and mood shows that miso may also help with anxiety and other emotional disorders.
- Olives – Brine-cured olives are power-packed foods that help with depression and anxiety, since they contain Vitamin E, iron, copper, fiber, and lactobacillus probiotics. These bacteria help maintain a balanced gut, boost your mood, improve your immune system and even fight infections.
- Sauerkraut – Produced by fermenting cabbage with salt, this tasty side dish contains lactic acid, digestive enzymes and vitamin C. Homemade or unpasteurized sauerkraut also contains high levels of lactobacillus probiotics that fight infection, help with digestion and improve mental health.
- Pickled Vegetables – All kinds of veggies can be pickled or fermented (without vinegar), e.g. cucumbers, carrots, radishes, green beans, cauliflower, bell peppers, etc. Pickled vegetables and fruits taste great, while the bifidobacterium probiotics in them help with digestion and improve your mood.
- Natto and Tempeh – Like miso, these foods are made of fermented soybeans. Natto is rich in bacillus subtilis, which fights pathogens and promotes the growth of other probiotic gut bacteria, while tempeh is rich in protein and fiber. Both these foods can help with digestive health as well as mood.
Among the many benefits of probiotics, their ability to improve mood disorders and mental health makes them dietary essentials. Wondering about using them to treat depression and anxiety? You should definitely include these powerful foods in your diet to boost your mood too!