In supporting mental health and brain balance, the simple things really do matter – sleep, exercise, and good nutrition. These foundational lifestyle aspects can have a significant and effective impact in balancing the brain and alleviating symptoms like depression and anxiety. Nutrition is a great place to start – not only because you need to feed your brain to keep it happy, but also because healthy nutrition makes both sleep and exercise easier too!
Some things to keep in mind:
- How much stimulant are you giving your brain through the day? This means coffee! (also, for example, nicotine and prescription stimulant drugs). For some sensitive people having coffee even at 2pm will affect sleep later in the night, and hyper stimulation at any time of day does not promote a balanced brain.
- How much alcohol are you consuming every day and every week? Alcohol can make us feel like our brain is happier in the short-term, but we know that alcohol can have a dramatic impact on all systems of the body, both short-term and long-term, and especially in relation to brain functioning.
- Are you getting enough healthy oils? Omega-3 fats have an anti-inflammatory effect that can work wonders for brain activity and brain health. You can get omega-3 fats from flax oil, walnuts, and fresh fish, or you can ask your ND about supplementing.
- Are you getting enough protein? Whether it’s animal protein, vegetable protein, vegan protein, or protein powder from a health food store, we need enough protein to keep our body going and to keep an ample supply of amino acids for the making of neurotransmitters like serotonin, GABA, and dopamine. We want the complexity of our brain activities to have the best ingredients possible to function, and protein is essential.
- Are you eating three balanced meals per day? A steady, predictable, and even source of nutrition helps to stabilize blood sugar, increase metabolism, and also can do wonders for alleviating common mental health symptoms like depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
If you’re having a balanced diet of fat, protein, fiber and carbs (like fruits and vegetables!), and you’re limiting extreme outside influences on brain behavior (like coffee, nicotine, and alcohol!) then you’re giving your brain all the ingredients it needs to work well. It’s simple, but it’s one step you can take toward a healthy, happier brain.