Feed Your Brain For Happiness: Improve Mental Health with Nutrition

Can the food you eat make you happy and help reduce the effects of stress?

Food and nutrition profoundly impact health and happiness, mitigate the harmful effects of stress and anxiety, and can either cause or reduce inflammation.

Chronic systemic inflammation is being implicated in more health challenges and concerns as scientific research is revealing this critical link to many modern day diseases and illness.

My focus is primarily using food and nutrition to improve mood and mental health, to be happy.

Can a plant-based vegan diet feed your brain for happiness and stress reduction?

Yes! Proper nutrition supports mental health.

PROTEIN

Protein is a vital for cell repair and maintaining or building strength. There are many plant-based sources. Some of the best vegan sources are:

  • Legumes – beans, peanuts, peas, lentils and soy (beans and soy products like tofu, tempeh etc.)
  • Grains – brown/wild rice, amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa
  • Nuts – brazils, peanuts, cashews, almonds, pistachios and walnuts

FATS

Key for the nervous system, hormonal health, and many physiological.

Sources:

  • flaxseeds and flax oil, coconut milk, olive oil, avocados, olive oil, seeds such as sunflower, sesame and pumpkin*, nuts such as Brazil, cashew and walnuts**
    • *highest in protein, good source of tryptophan, zinc, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and B vitamins
    **nuts and seeds should be soaked overnight to neutralize naturally occurring enzyme inhibitors and aid in digestion and absorption

VEGETABLES & FRUITS

Fresh veggies from the farmers market

Fresh veggies from the farmers market

Contain minerals such as calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and zinc, B vitamins; and antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, E, and K.

Sources:

  • Non-starchy fresh vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, avocados, bell peppers, bok choy, burdock, carrots, celery, cilantro, cruciferous vegetables, cucumber, daikon, eggplant, fennel, garlic, ginger, green beans, green leafy vegetables, salad greens, mushrooms, onions, parsley, radishes, sweet peas, summer squash, tomatoes, turnips, water chestnuts
  • Starchy Vegetables: beets, corn, peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, winter squash
  • Fresh Fruit: apples, apricots, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cranberries, figs, grapefruit, grapes, honeydew, kiwi, lemons, mangoes, melons, nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, pineapple, plums, raspberries, strawberries, tangerines, watermelon

GLUTEN FREE GRAINS

Good source of fiber and B vitamins.
Sources: brown rice, wild rice, quinoa (high protein), millet, and amaranth.

LEGUMES

Good source of protein and carb; high in fiber.
Sources: black beans, black eyed peas, chickpeas, lentils, pinto, split pea.

Soak overnight and rinse before cooking; add kombu while cooking to improve digestibility;
sprout

Fermented foods

Contain enzymes and probiotics; help maintain a healthy balance of flora in the gut sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, miso

Homemade vegetable broths

Rich in minerals, improve digestion, healing for digestive system, boost immunity

Fresh herbs and spices

Enhance flavor; medicinal benefits, e.g., improved digestion (mint and ginger), cancer preventive (turmeric and rosemary)

Sprouted beans and seeds

Nutrient dense, high in enzymes, e.g., alfalfa, mung beans, lentils, broccoli.

Raw apple cider vinegar

Variety of vitamins and minerals, promotes good digestion, stabilizes blood sugar levels

Sea vegetables

Rich in minerals including iodine, iron and magnesium.