Mental health simply refers to the cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being of a human. It is all about how people think, feel, and behave.
Better mental health translates to a person’s ability to enjoy life, this involves reaching a balance between life activities, responsibilities, and efforts to achieve psychological resilience.
Humans, especially Africans, over time have been negligent to the role that mental health plays in the general well-being of an individual.
The scarcity of research mirrors the weakness of mental health services on the continent and the blind eye turned to the problem by many Africans, but notwithstanding mental health issues seem to be on the rise in the continent.
With Africa’s population predicted to double in the next three decades, the demands on young people in particular, who are currently struggling to make ends meet in highly competitive labor markets across the continent, are certain to increase. Many people will develop psychological difficulties as a result of their failure to achieve their goals, and some will turn to substance abuse to cope.
But dieting creates a cheaper and least stressful alternative, Researchers have revealed that dieting is as important to mental health as it is to physical health.
A well-balanced, nutritious diet that contains fruits and vegetables can help us think more clearly and feel more awake. It can also help with focus and attention span, thus effectively reducing the risk of depression and mental health issues.
The relationship between our diet and our mental health is complex. However, research shows a link between what we eat and how we feel.
Medication, psychotherapy, and group therapy are all common treatments for mental diseases. While these arguments are strong, most experts feel that, in addition to these traditional treatments, nutrition can play an important role in the treatment of mental illnesses.
People who eat foods high in probiotic bacteria (good bacteria), such as leafy green vegetables, can help to reduce anxiety and enhance their mood. Apart from fruits and vegetables, it is also critical for people to avoid foods like white sugar, processed foods, and refined substances.
Researchers have proved that along with a balanced diet, fruits and vegetables also when eaten appropriately go a long way in boosting moods and reducing depressive tensions, effectively keeping us away from the prescription table.
The study results also showed an association between raw produce and better mental health, not a cause-and-effect relationship. But the researchers say the link could have to do with the fact that many fruits and vegetables have more nutrients in their natural, unprocessed state—and that those nutrients may have a positive impact on mood and brain chemistry.
Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of the minerals, vitamins, and fiber we need to keep us physically and mentally healthy.
These include carrots, dark leafy greens such as spinach, lettuce, cucumber, apples, bananas, grapefruit, other citrus fruits, fresh berries, and Kiwi fruit. Vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, green beans, and broccoli are best when eaten raw.
Some important Nutrients found in fruits and vegetables are important for maintaining and promoting mental health, boosting morale plus increasing overall happiness levels. These nutrients are critical for brain structure and function, so they have a potentially profound impact on mental health.
Here’s a list of all the important nutrients that can be found in fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that is naturally present in some food, it’s essential for both brain and bone growth. Low maternal vitamin D levels have been associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia, according to research, and deficiency has been connected to higher depressive symptoms. However, there is little evidence that vitamin D supplementation can help prevent depression.
Antioxidants and phytonutrients such as flavonoids, flavones, catechins, polyphenols, and phytoestrogens are all found in fruits and vegetables. Each antioxidant has a distinct function and cannot be substituted for another. This is why it is critical to eat a diverse diet.
Increased oxidative stress and brain cell damage have been linked to a variety of mental illnesses, including depression and dementia. Antioxidant substances (such as “polyphenols,” which can be found in fruits and herbs) may “mop up” free radicals that cause cell damage, providing a natural strategy to battle excessive oxidation.
These antioxidant chemicals can be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, including blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and goji berries; grapes; mangoes and mangosteen; onions; garlic; kale; green and black tea; various herbal teas; and coffee.
Potassium, Zinc, Magnesium, Iron found in Fruit and Vegetables or other food substances have important neurological importance.
Zinc is an essential trace element related to many biological and biochemical functions, including the immune system and metabolism, as well as brain growth and development.
Magnesium is a mineral found in the human body that aids in the regulation and relaxation of the neurological system. Magnesium supplementation can help with depression, premenstrual syndrome in women, and hypertension in ADHD kids. Research has shown that a deficiency of these minerals is linked to depression.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that is essential for a variety of bodily processes.
Polyunsaturated fats have an important role in neuronal development and function, as well as in influencing key components of the inflammatory process in the body.
Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of developing
Vitamin B and Folate
g psychiatric illnesses in humans, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dementia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and autism.
The B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, B6, B12, and folate)
Vitamin B complex in the diet can aid to improve mental wellness. Vitamin B shortage can wreak havoc on your memory and lead to cognitive decline and dementia. Vitamin B plays a role in the complication of depressed symptoms.
Deficits in vitamin B1 have also been linked to mental health issues such as memory loss, anxiety, sadness, irritability, and insomnia. This vitamin aids in the conversion of glucose or blood sugar into energy in the brain. This means that if it isn’t present, the brain may be unable to function normally. Vitamin deficiency can also cause weariness, a loss of appetite, and gastrointestinal problems.
Amino acids are compounds that combine to make proteins. Each of the necessary amino acids has a distinct function in the body, and depletion symptoms vary appropriately.
Reduced immunity, digestive problems, depression, fertility concerns, poorer mental alertness, delayed growth in children, and a variety of other health problems can all be caused by an amino acid shortage.
Although the exact link between protein/amino acid diet and cognitive function is uncertain, protein deficiency is a possible risk factor for senile dementia.
Microbotics are bacteria that live in the intestinal tract. Bacteria are required for the body to operate normally, even though the word bacteria is frequently linked with germs and illness.
A diet that is rich in nutrients that nourish helpful bacteria while reducing dangerous microbial species and supporting a healthy microfloral environment. Fermented foods like tempeh, sauerkraut, kefir, and yogurt, as well as pectin-rich foods like fruit skin, can help to sustain beneficial microbiota.
Eating a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables every day means you’ll get a good range of the aforementioned nutrients.
Here is a list of recommended fruits and vegetables to get you ticking!
Bananas are the ultimate mood changer, They’re high in vitamin B6, which helps synthesize feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Bananas are considered low-glycemic food (The glycemic index is used in a low glycemic diet to discover which foods have the least impact on blood sugar levels. Choosing low glycemic foods can aid with blood sugar regulation and weight loss.)
Bananas also contain serotonin which is the key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. This hormone impacts our entire body.
It enables brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with each other, although the form of serotonin found in bananas doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier which means it can’t get into the brain to supplement the serotonin that’s naturally produced by the body.
This deep purple root vegetable has a sweet flavor and is very healthy. Vitamins A, B, and C, oxalates, iron, folate, magnesium, and potassium, antioxidants, fiber, and protein are all abundant in red beets.
Beetroots are high in nitrates, which are transformed into nitrites after being cooked. Nitrites cause the blood arteries that deliver oxygen to the brain to dilate.
More blood flows to the brain as blood arteries dilate, and with increased blood flow comes higher oxygen flow. This technique improves blood flow to parts of the brain that are poor in oxygen.
Reduced oxygen reaching the brain is one of the causes of dementia and associated symptoms. Beets are high in choline, which promotes memory by generating the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Both of these systems operate together to prevent the onset of dementia.
Orange is one of the most popular fruits on earth, Oranges are also a good source of fiber, B vitamins, vitamin A, calcium, and potassium but are mostly known for their high vitamin C content.
Their high folate levels improve the efficacy of antidepressant medications. Hesperidin has additional advantages, such as preventing neurodegenerative disorders. Because low thiamine levels are linked to dementia, increased thiamine concentrations in oranges may provide similar advantages.
Oranges also contain several nutrients that are known to be beneficial to the nervous system, including potassium and different antioxidants. Folate has been linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairment. Potassium has been associated with improved cognition, concentration, and neuronal activity as well as increased blood supply to the brain.
Seaweed is rich in micronutrients, trace elements, minerals, vitamins, and essential fatty acids including omega-3s, omega-6s, and omega-9s — that will help bolster your brain and body’s health.
One of the advantages of seaweed is that many species are high in prebiotics, which provides the fiber needed for good bacteria to develop in the human GI tract.
In addition to the various benefits of eating seaweed or taking kelp dietary supplements, those who eat seaweed daily are less likely to suffer from severe depression.
Research conducted among Japanese adults found out that a higher seaweed intake lowers the possibility of depression effectively.
This delicious, purple fruit is stacked with essential antioxidants.
Eating blueberries for depression may help in getting rid of your depression because blueberry seems to exhibit similar effects as valproic acid, which is a mood-stabilizing medication that helps regulate emotions.
The antioxidant flavonoid anthocyanin found in blueberries has been linked to lower inflammation and the risk of depression. Finally, they contain vitamin C, which may help to alleviate the detrimental effects of stress. Blueberries also contain amounts of resveratrol, an antioxidant pigment that has been linked to relief from depression.
This fully ripened green pepper packs twice the amount of vitamin C as the unripe variant. Red peppers contain vitamin B6 which helps your brain produce serotonin and norepinephrine, two chemicals that affect your mood.
They are also packed with quercetin, which among other flavonoids, has demonstrated effective stress relief properties, in addition, it also contains luteolin which can be effective against depression.
Coconut is a superfood. The oil derived from coconuts has several emerging benefits for your health.
Coconut oil contains one of the most effective fats for reducing depression, memory loss, and stress relief. One of the causes is the MCT fats found in coconut, which bypasses digestion and is absorbed right away. As a result of your brain’s ability to convert them into ketones for fuel, which improves your mood.
These fats also help you focus, fight mental weariness, and keep your blood sugar in check, all of which improve your mood in different ways.
Pumpkin seeds are highly nutritious and packed with powerful antioxidants. The seeds are also a great source of another amino acid, glutamate. This is essential to the synthesis of γ-aminobutyric acid, which is an anti-stress neurochemical that reduces anxiety and the risks of depression.
Asparagus is a nutrient-packed vegetable. It is a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as chromium.
The Folates found in them have helped reduce the risk of depression.
It does this by preventing the accumulation of too much homocysteine in the body. Homocysteine is an amino acid that can obstruct the flow of blood and nutrients to the brain.
Homocysteine can interfere with the production of the feel-good neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine if there is too much of it. Mood, sleep, and appetite are all controlled by these hormones.
Cherry tomatoes are high in vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to human health. They’re packed with vitamin C, which is important for a variety of bodily activities.
Also, the consistent ingestion of cherry tomatoes is associated with treating depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
Spinach is a superfood, it contains serotonin which is a neurotransmitter that floats in our brain and gives us the feel-good factor, The tryptophan found in spinach also helps to increase serotonin production in the brain.
Spinach is also high in folate, another nutrient that helps increase levels of serotonin in the brain.
Spinach and other leafy green vegetables are filled with important nutrients that do wonders for the brain. Nutrients such as folate, iron, essential vitamins help in the production of feel-good enzymes, effectively reducing the risk of depression and dementia in adults.
Peas are a vegan-friendly source of iron that can help you fight the depressing sensations that come with iron deficiency anemia. All that iron can also help you feel less tired, which is a proven happiness killer.
Avocado is the only fruit that contains monounsaturated fatty acids and it also contains almost 20 vitamins and minerals like vitamins B6, C, E, K, folate, magnesium, lutein, and potassium.
Vitamin B6 it contains helps the body make several neurotransmitters, including serotonin, which influences mood.
The B vitamins it produces which are thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin are vitamins that have beneficial effects on the neurological system. Deficiencies of these vitamins have been linked to increased anxiety in some people.
Apricots are incredibly delicious and nutritious fruits.
It is a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids which have been found effective in dealing with mental health issues like bipolar episodes, psychiatric disturbance, and fluctuating moods.
Apricots also are high in tryptophan, an amino acid that the body turns to serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter. This brain chemical improves your mood by making you feel more upbeat, enhancing your self-esteem, and even assisting you in controlling impulsive behavior.
It also aids in a good night’s sleep. If necessary, some of the tryptophan is converted to niacin or vitamin B3. A lack of this vitamin can result in fatigue, eating apricots can help you stay energized.
Broccoli is a green nutritional leafy vegetable full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. It’s related to cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cauliflower, which are all edible plants known as cruciferous vegetables.
The sulforaphane found in broccoli sprouts has been an effective treatment for several mental health disorders.
Researchers have found that sulforaphane may help reduce levels of a compound called glutamate, which has been linked to disorders like depression and schizophrenia.
Though the research isn’t definitive, there’s evidence that the sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts may assist persons with mental health issues to control their symptoms and reduce their typical prescription dosages.
Lemons are a rich source of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidants
A drop of lemon in your water has a long list of health benefits, it especially preps up your mood and relieves you from depression and stress.
Lemons are high in vitamin C (nearly as much as oranges), a substance that has been shown to reduce stress hormone levels. Vitamin C has been discovered to protect brain cells against the stress hormone cortisol. According to one study, vitamin C helped people recover more quickly from stressful situations.
Kale is another superfood on this list of superfoods. it is a green, leafy, cruciferous vegetable that is rich in nutrients. It may offer a range of health benefits for the whole body.
It contains fiber, antioxidants, calcium, vitamin C, and K, iron, and a wide range of other nutrients that do wonders for the brain especially. Kale contains at least 45 distinct flavonoids, all of which work as powerful antioxidants to prevent brain inflammation and free radical-induced aging.
It also boosts levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, which are found in low levels in children with learning and behavioral disorders, and helps improve overall cognition by staving off conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other cognitive impairment.
Guavas are amazingly rich in vitamins A and C, You’ll feel a significant change in your mood because of the vitamin C found in guava, which creates noradrenaline. Guava also includes a lot of magnesium, which might help you feel less anxious and happier.
It is also one of the richest sources of dietary fiber.
Several constituents of guava, including potassium, folate, and antioxidants, have been shown to have neuroprotective properties. Folate has been linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairment. Potassium has been related to improved cognition, concentration, and neuronal activity via increasing blood flow to the brain.
Also, guava contains a considerable amount of vitamin B6, which the deficiency of has shown depression and nausea.
This leafy green is high in magnesium, which is necessary for metabolic activities in the brain that boost energy levels. A study revealed that higher magnesium intake is associated with lower rates of depression. On those days you’re feeling charged-out, try grabbing some of the magnesium-rich food to get that boost.
Swiss chard is also a valuable source of both potassium and vitamin K, both of which are found in significant amounts in the brain and are integral parts of boosting cognitive development and abilities. Add some Swiss chard to your diet and expand your mind and makes it fresh to assimilate new knowledge, overall boosting your mental health.
There are lots more fruits and vegetables out there that help boost mental health. Which of these fruits and vegetables will you be introducing to your diet?