Brain food

We all know that what we eat affects our physical health, but did you know there’s growing evidence that nutrition and mental wellbeing are also closely linked?

The brain is the largest organ in the body and, like our hearts, livers and other organs, it is affected by what we eat and drink. To put it bluntly, we are what we eat!

Research shows that people who report some level of mental health problems eat fewer healthy foods (fresh fruit and vegetables, organic foods and meals made from scratch) and more unhealthy foods (chips and crisps, chocolate, ready meals and takeaways). The opposite is true too – people who eat healthier foods are more likely to have good mental health.

So what foods give the brain the nutrients it needs for good mental health and wellbeing? Fortunately, it’s the same kind of diet you need for good physical health:

  • lots of different vegetables and fruit.
  • a wide variety of whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.
  • some occasional oily fish, lean meat and dairy products.

Raw fruit and vegetables provide better mental health outcomes

In April 2018 University of Otago researchers published research which found that raw fruit and vegetables may be better for your mental health than cooked, canned and processed fruit and vegetables.

The top 10 raw foods related to better mental health were: carrots, bananas, apples, dark leafy greens such as spinach, grapefruit, lettuce, citrus fruits, fresh berries, cucumber, and kiwifruit.

More on the food - mental health link...

University of Canterbury clinical psychologist Julia Rucklidge is leading the charge when it comes to exploring the links between nutrition and mental health.