Diet and mental health are closely linked, much like the complex relationship between the gut and the brain. The lack of good food choices increases mental health problems, which in turn leads to poor eating habits.

According to a report published by the American “CNBC” network, says Dr. Uma Naidoo, a nutritional psychologist, brain expert, faculty member at Harvard Medical School, and author of “This Is Your Brain on Food: An Indispensable Guide to the Surprising Foods that Fight Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, and More.” Based on her experiences with hundreds of patients, she, as a psychiatrist, brain health researcher, and nutritionist, can recommend a list of the best foods that boost brain power and improve psychological well-being.

Naidu adds that incorporating these foods into the diet helps improve mood, boost memory, and help the brain function at maximum efficiency:

1. Spices and seasonings

In addition to adding flavour, spices and seasonings are known for their antioxidant properties. In other words, they help the brain fight off harmful free radicals and thus prevent oxidative stress that can damage tissues.

Turmeric is one of the great spices when it comes to reducing stress and anxiety. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, can reduce anxiety and alter corresponding brain chemistry, protecting the hippocampus.

Saffron is also a helpful option. A 2013 review of five studies on the effects of saffron supplementation on depressive symptoms among participants with major depressive disorder reported that taking saffron significantly reduced depressive symptoms compared to a placebo.

2. Fermented foods

Fermented foods are made by combining milk, vegetables, or other raw ingredients with microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria.
Some examples include plain yogurt and sauerkraut, among multiple sources of live bacteria that can promote healthy gut function, reduce stress, and improve mood.

Probiotic yogurt can be a solid part of the diet, but it should be kept in mind that yogurts that undergo heat treatment do not provide the same benefits, as they lack beneficial bacteria.

3. Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is an excellent source of iron, which helps form the mantle that protects nerve cells and helps control the synthesis of chemicals and chemical pathways involved in mood, provided it doesn’t contain a lot of sugar.
In 2019, a study of more than 13,000 adults found that people who regularly ate dark chocolate had a 70% lower risk of depression.

4. Avocado

Avocados contain relatively high amounts of magnesium, which is important for proper brain function. The first report on magnesium as a treatment for depression was published in 1921, and it showed tremendous success in 220 out of 250 cases

Since then, countless studies have indicated that depression is linked to magnesium deficiency. Several case studies in which patients were treated with 125 to 300 milligrams of magnesium showed rapid recovery from major depression, often in less than a week.

5. Nuts

Nuts contain healthy fats and oils that the brain needs to function well, along with essential vitamins and minerals — for example, the selenium in Brazil nuts.

The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts show promise in improving brain functioning and memory. Experts advise choosing types that contain very little added sugar or salt, and the best option is nuts without additives.

6. Leafy vegetables

Leafy greens contain vitamin E, carotenoids, and flavonoids, nutrients that protect against dementia and cognitive decline. They also offer another benefit of being a great source of folic acid, a natural form of vitamin B9 that’s important in red blood cells

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