9 Foods that Affect Your Mental Health

Greg Burzynski originally published this post on LinkedIn.


The brain works 24/7 to control thoughts, movements, breathing, heartbeat and senses; as a result, it requires constant supply of fuel, which come from the food you eat on a daily basis. However, your brain can only function well if you eat the right kind of food. This post will explore the foods that are likely to affect your brain negatively and positively.

Foods Likely to Affect Your Brain Positively

1. Blueberries

Blueberries contain compounds that protect the brain against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. These compounds also improve the function of the part of the brain that controls learning and motor skills.

2. Nuts

Nuts contain vitamin E. High levels of vitamin E reduce the rate of cognitive decline in adults. Suitable nuts include cashews, almonds, filberts, flax seeds, sesame, sunflower seeds, and walnuts.

3. Salmon

Salmon fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce the symptoms of depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, and other mental disorders. This is possible because omega-3s stimulate the production of brain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin.

4. Whole Grains

Whole grains are the prime source of energy. They provide a steady source of fuel to the brain, enabling it to perform its functions effectively. Healthy whole grains include oats, barley, beans, soy, wheat and bulgur.

5. Leafy Vegetables

Leafy vegetables contain high amounts of folic acid and vitamin B. A deficiency in these nutrients can lead to depression, fatigue and insomnia. Best examples of leafy vegetables include romaine, turnip, broccoli, mustard greens and spinach.

Foods Likely to Affect Your Brain Negatively

6. Tuna

Many people love tuna because of its taste. However, tuna contains high amounts of mercury, which can take a toll on the brain function. A research conducted by the University of South Florida found that high levels of mercury in the blood contribute to a five percent cognitive decline.

7. White Rice

White rice has a high glycemic index that increases the risk of depression. A studyconducted in 2015 found out that women who have eaten food high glycemic-index foods were more likely to report new-onset depression than those who ate foods rich in lactose and fiber.

8. Fruit Juice/Sugary Drinks

Fruit juice contains a lot of sugar. Consistent intake of sugar can reduce cognitive flexibility and memory. This is possible because sugar promotes the growth of clostridiales, a gut bacteria that increases gut inflammation and downstream the brain is affected.

9. Cheese

Cheese contains a lot of saturated fats that contribute to memory decline and inflammation in the brain. The saturated fats also damage the hypothalamus, the part of the brain which has many important functions including directing the release of hormones from the pituitary gland vital for regulating weight and metabolism.

Consume your Way to Fight Inflammation

Our body is devised with an amazingly astonishing mechanism: when an alien object tries to enter your body, it works to shield itself from the foreign element. 

The immune system of our body is designed in such a way that, when it fights off invaders like plant pollens or chemical elements of a microbe, the body reacts to the process in multiple ways. One of the reactions is inflammation.

Inflammation is the defense process of our immune system in which a part of the body becomes red and begins to swell. This is a perfectly natural reaction to an infection or an injury, as your blood cells rush to the area to assist in healing. However, if the inflammation persists chronically, the repercussions can turn life threatening. 

Sometimes inflammation occurs without an infection or a bruise caused by external factors, and that is when you need to start paying attention. Inflammation can be a gateway to a number of fatal illnesses like cancer, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, depression, and even Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. 

Remedies to combat inflammation lie in our kitchens. Many experimental studies have concluded that consuming right nutrients can actually influence the onset, or stymie the occurrence, of inflammation in the human body.

Here are some of the most dangerous foods to consume for their role in causing inflammation:

  • Overconsumption of refined carbohydrates like white bread, pastries, and white rice to name a few examples.  If the bread is soft and easily compressed most likely it’s going to quickly turn into sugar in one’s body.
  • Fried foods and other pre-prepared packaged junk foods such chips that are excessively consumed can speed up the occurrence of inflammation.
  • Sugar-laden and sweetened beverages, drinks, sodas, and over consumption of alcohol.  The liquid consumption of sugar causes other health hazards too, besides inflammation and fuels the metabolic syndrome affecting many today.
  • Processed meat like hot dogs, sausages, salami, bacon, luncheon meats.
  • Corn fed red meat like steaks, burgers, and other “meat pie” dishes.
  • Spreads of animal fat origin like margarine, lard, and shortening.

It is not a revelation that most of the food items mentioned above are associated with diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity since inflammation is an underlying cause of each of these diseases.

What must be consumed to keep inflammation at bay?

Take a look at some of the best fresh foods, preferably organic, you can consume to reduce inflammation:

  • Fibrous green leafy and cruciferous vegetables like spinach, collards, lettuce, swiss chards, kale, broccoli trying to go for various colors of the rainbow
  • Tomatoes, which contain anti-inflammatory compounds such as lycopene.
  • Almonds, walnuts, and cashews
  • Fruits, including citruses, like oranges, cherries, strawberries, and other berries
  • Fatty fish like sardines packed in water or olive oil, mackerel, wild salmon and, herring, and black cod. If eating these fish is not possible than take a high quality fish oil supplement
  • Lets not forget about the mushrooms.  If available in your area maitake, shiitake, enokitake, and oyster mushrooms provide powerful health benefits.
  • Beverages like green or white tea, matcha, and coffee have anti-inflammatory benefits too, but mind the additives, which can negate the benefits.

The Mediterranean diet, which is composed primarily of plant, healthy fat and protein consumption, is said to be an ideal and healthy dietary lifestyle if one wishes to lean towards anti-inflammatory eating.

Foods That Keep You Fuller Longer

Let’s face it, one of the most difficult things to do while trying to lose weight is portion control. We’ve all been there. I mean, if you love food, cutting it back can be quite a task! Won’t it be awesome if there was a way to eat fewer calories and still not have to starve yourself to death? Well, I am here to tell you, there is! The best way to do this is to pick food items that are healthy, low in calories and still keep you full for a longer time. So, give your unhealthy snacks the boot and try these wholesome foods that will keep you fuller longer!

1. Eggs

Eggs, preferably organic, are arguably the best breakfast food. They have a great combination of protein and fat that satisfy hunger than almost any other breakfast food. Research has also shown that people eating eggs for breakfast take a longer time to feel hungry. Eggs can suppress the release of a hormone called Ghrelin which is an appetite-stimulating hormone telling the brain to eat. Many people try to avoid eggs because of the cholesterol. However, studies have shown that the cholesterol content in eggs is not the main culprit of causing high cholesterol levels. If you are still concerned, you can try eating egg whites that have no cholesterol whatsoever.

2. Legumes and beans

All kinds of beans, lentils, and chickpeas are full of lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. This combination can keep you full for a longer time. Research has shown that the combination of these three ingredients can help to stabilize the blood glucose level leading to the feeling of satiety for a longer time. As a bonus beans and legumes have a ton of fiber as well. And the fact that they taste so good is a huge plus too; don’t you think?

3. Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt, or how I like to call it “Real Yogurt”, is a delicious way to cut down the calories and still staying full. It is packed with protein, calcium and has very few calories. The high protein content keeps you full longer. As a matter of fact, one six-ounce serving of Greek yogurt has about 15-20 grams of protein. Protein makes you feel satisfied for a longer time and does not cause a spike in insulin levels either. The combined effect is you eat less and feel full longer! As not to offend other nationalities, Icelandic, Swiss, Blugarian and Indian yogurt are also outstanding.

4. Almonds and other nuts

It is no secret that nuts are good for you. They are packed with healthy fat that is good for the heart. They also have a lot of fiber, especially Almonds. The high fiber content of almonds keeps you full for a long time. So, instead of eating any processed snack, try a few almonds during your mid-day snack breaks. They are delicious, nutritious and keep you full longer. What else can you ask for, right?

5. Water

Yes, good old water, preferably filtered! Water has no calories at all and occupies a lot of space in your stomach. Apart from the obvious benefits of keeping yourself hydrated, water can also reduce your appetite. A study had shown that participants who drank just one glass of water before each meal, consumed up to 90 fewer calories per meal. So, raise your glasses, to H2O!

6. Avocadoes

Avocados are nature’s gift to humanity! They are rich in heart-healthy fats and did I say delicious! They also have a lots of fiber as well. The combination of monounsaturated fat and fiber make them ideal for keeping you fuller longer. Try and include Avocadoes in your meals. They go great in salads and sandwiches as well!

7. Apples

When they said, an apple a day keeps the doctor away; they were not exaggerating. Well, maybe a little bit! Nonetheless, apples are perfect for snacking in between your meals. They are rich in fiber and vitamins and of course delicious. If you feel a bit peckish during the day, grab an organic apple rather than a bag of chips from the vending machine!