This week with my fellow Mental Wellness Warriors we talked about nourishing our bodies for our mental health because, come on, we absolutely can't show up for ourselves and for our lives and feel how we want to feel if we're not giving our bodies what it needs.
When I think about how I want my physical body to feel, I want to fell energized and rested and clear. What comes up for you? Maybe you've never though about it. Take a moment now, and a deep breath. How do you want to feel?
Taking care of our physical body is supporting our mental wellness. It’s one of the pillars of our overall wellbeing. It’s one of the things I support you in showing up for yourself. It’s so important! You know I’m allll about baby steps making massive impact, real-life, do-able, easy-to-stay-consistent-and-committed-to and here they are.
More than half of our bodies are made up of water and our hearts and our brains make up more water than the rest of our bodies. Every cell depends on it. Let that sink in... Every cell in our bodies depends on water.
It’s simply water and if we want to function at our best, physically and mentally we have to drink it. If we’re not drinking it, dehydration very quickly affects how we feel and think. It causes fatigue, it affects our mood, makes it hard to concentrate. If you struggle with a mood disorder, or have other struggles with how your brain functions and processes, you're making it harder on yourself if you're not hydrating.
Start with a glass of water first thing in the morning. I start my day with a mug of warm water with lemon and I've set a timer on my phone reminding me to hydrate about five times a day. It's really annoying, but it works! And it's just until I form the habit to drink more. Like EVERYTHING. It’s a practice to create the habit.
Drink up, Warriors. Cheers to a baby step, easy button with a massive impact!
2 / NUTRITION
We don’t always think about the foods we eat in correlation with how we feel when we’re managing things like anxiety and depression and we can fuel our bodies with the right foods for our mental health.
I'm talking about the nutrients we need to regulate mood, particularly with decreasing the risk of depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety. Nutrients are actually building blocks for different chemicals within the body like our neurotransmitters, which are chemicals in the brain that have specific functions that are all built with certain types of foods.
Ahhhhh.... and just like the food you choose can impact your mood, the mood you’re in can also impact the foods you choose, right? Which can also feed into a cycle of promoting depressed or anxious moods.
Like, when we’re depressed or irritable we might reach out for comfort foods and when we're overwhelmed and stressed maybe we reach for sugar. Making poor and mindless choices setting ourselves up to feel even worse, you know?
Let's talk about five brain healthy foods + a handy
Nourish Guide to support your nutrition for your mental wellness.
Salmon - Rich in Omega-3 and anti-inflammatory fatty acids like EPA and DHA, which are essential healthy fats because our body cannot create them on its own. I don’t eat salmon, but I take a high-quality BiOmega supplement, which we’ll get to. The fatty acids basically help protect our brains and cells and help with anti-inflammation so our brain can send signals to other parts of our body. An imbalance of these fats also impacts how our brain cells communicate with one another, and a lower intake of Omega-3 is associated with a higher risk of depression. Salmon also contains vitamin D, which is another nutrient that is important in the management of depression and supporting immune function and a necessity if you're in my grey, gloomy, winter neck of the woods!
Lentils - Loaded with the B vitamin folate which is needed to produce serotonin, which if you're reading this far in you know is a brain neurotransmitter, the ‘happy hormone.’ They help with the production of serotonin. Lentils are also low on the glycemic index, which means they cause our blood sugar to rise at a more gradual rate, helping to regulate blood sugar levels which helps with mood and keeping a consistent energy throughout the day. Yes, ENERGY.
Bananas - Bananas are mood-enhancing because it affects tryptophan, which is another essential amino acid that helps produce serotonin. Tryptophan also helps with sleep, regulates our food intake – both which are associated with impacting mood. Bananas also get other vitamins and minerals like potassium, vitamin B6 and fibre which all support our body utilizing tryptophan for serotonin production.
Kefir - Is a dairy beverage high in probiotics, but let's be realistic... who actually consumes this yogurt drink? No, really... have you? I take a probiotic that I put in my smoothie instead because gut health is linked to mental health and has been found to have the ability to reduce depression symptoms, that the good bacteria in our stomachs can affect our brain and mental health.
Sweet Potato - Rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene, which helps in reducing damage to the brain cells, which can have a negative impact on mental health. It can also be helpful in reducing the oxidative stress on DNA, which has been linked with depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.
So add these five to your grocery list, or like me, just one or two (lentils and sweet potato), so not to overwhelm yourself and also to be real about what you're actually going to consume and then add more in time.
Other helpful nutrients...
Iron - Plays a really big role in the production of serotonin and dopamine, and can keep our mood more regulated and decrease the risk of depression. Find iron in foods like red meat, beans or grains like bread and potatoes.
B vitamin - B1, B3 and B12, in particular, play a role in decreasing the risk of irritability and depression and can be found in animal proteins – like meats, fish and poultry, as well as eggs and dairy, or non-dairy sources.
Selenium - A selenium deficiency has been shown to leave us feeling depressed and having other negative mood states, like feeling sad, overwhelmed and anxiety. Foods with selenium include animal proteins like meats, fish and poultry as well as seeds like pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
Okkkk... Like I said, don’t let this overwhelm you… Just slowly introduce more of one or two of these things. It’s also a really good idea to have bloodwork done to see where your vitamin and nutrient levels are at so you’ll know if you are deficient in any of them. My most recent bloodwork shows I'm meeting the proper levels in all of them, and that’s where we come into numero 3.
3 / SUPPLEMENTATION to combat nutritional deficiencies. Every nutrient I've mentioned above I fill the nutritional gaps with high-quality supplements. Like a grandma, I have a pretty purple pill box and I take a mittful of vitamins and have for five years and will for life. It's the one consistent, daily non-negotiable rituals that support my overall wellbeing.
We talked about hydration and that every cell in our bodies depends on it. Our cells are the building blocks of our bodies and I take only the highest-quality supplements to support my health on a cellular level.
That play a huge role in how I show up for myself and for my life. In one way I nourish my body on a cellular level that has made a major, positive shift in my mental wellness. And I've created an easy button for you made up of my staples in a convenient Mental Health Pak so that YOU can feel that positive shift as well.
Oh, and a Nourish Guide for you. Don't forget to grab that. xo