• Tonya Hooker

Nutrition and Mental Health



The month of May acknowledges mental health awareness month; and the emerging crisis of the Covid pandemic has caused many people to experience increased anxiety and depression. According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, more than half of Americans-56% reported that worry or stress related to the outbreak has led to at least one or more negative mental health effect. Now, we have all heard that eating well can improve our heart health and reduce the risks associated with high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and various cancers. But what many do not realize is that a healthy diet also contributes to a healthy mind. Proper nutrition is a significant contributor to mental health. It boosts our cognitive function and reduces symptoms of anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. One of the best ways to improve our mental health is through diet and nutrition. “What we eat affects all of the tissues in our bodies, from the quality of our skin to the sharpness of our brains” (Karen Ansel, M.S., author of Healing Superfoods for Anti-Aging).

Of course, dietary changes are not the only way to treat mental health issues, it is only one piece of the puzzle; so let’s start there. The use of the Superfood, Ultra-Premium Extra Virgin Olive oil instead of unhealthy vegetable or coconut oils is always great place to start. The administration of EVOO enriched with polyphenols can improve cognitive performance. There have been numerous studies performed that show even low doses of Ultra-Premium EVOO can reduce anxiety and improve learning and memory combined with antioxidant properties, brain dopamine and serotonin also plays a role in the therapeutically important effects of olive oil (Cheema MAR, Mahmood K, Haleem DJ (2018) Nootropic and Anti-anxiety Effects of Olive Oil: Relationship with Dopamine and Serotonin Metabolism. J Nutraceuticals Food Sci Vol.3:No.1:4.). Herbs and Spices are another Superfood that provides healing power. Turmeric is a golden spice that delivers some solid-gold benefits, such as easing inflammation, slowing cancer, treating depression and other conditions. Thanks to high amounts of curcumin, a powerful antioxidant. Studies show that curcumin can help treat a range of problems, from minor tooth aches to chronic conditions like arthritis, heart disease and diabetes. Researchers are also studying its potential as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, as well as colon, prostate and breast cancers. Evidence suggests that curcumin may be a safe and effective aid for depression. So, “What’s for dinner” you ask? Whatever you choose to have, make sure it’s good for your body, which will be good for your brain and mental well-being too! Because diet is proven to be one of the most powerful interventions we have against maintaining a healthy mind.

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