This article was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.
Grabbing a slice of pizza or sugary treat can be a quick way to seek comfort in the middle of a stressful day. But reaching for unhealthy comfort foods again and again can lead to feeling less healthy mentally and physically.
The next time you need a mental boost, step away from the donut. Consider taking small steps to include more mood-boosting foods in your diet today, every small step you take can lead to more health benefits tomorrow. Try these nutritious foods with specific nutrients that can help support your health and mental wellbeing.
Magnesium-Rich Foods to Manage Cortisol
In a healthy body, magnesium plays a role in a wide range of functions. Magnesium can assist with helping manage cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone, and relax the body. Without the proper amount of magnesium, your body may have more trouble eliminating excess cortisol. When cortisol is eliminated, you may feel a sense of relaxation from stress leaving your body.
The good news is that magnesium is plentiful in many whole foods and may be a way to improve your mood when you supplement your intake. When you’re looking to bring more magnesium-rich foods into your daily diet, look to leafy greens, seeds and nuts, and complex carbohydrates like rolled oats, brown rice, and whole wheat bread.
- Peanuts and Peanut Butter
- Chia Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Brown Rice
- Whole Wheat Bread
Try eating your veggies raw to get even more magnesium from your food, as cooking can cause magnesium loss. Magnesium can be beneficial in helping you absorb more vitamin D. Try taking magnesium with Vitamin D, which is another important vitamin for your mental health.
The Sunshine Effect of Vitamin D Foods
Called the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is closely associated with sun exposure. So whether you’re getting enough Vitamin D could be related to whether you’re getting enough sunshine. You may be able to get the vitamin D you need by spending as little as 10-15 minutes a week in the sun with your arms and legs exposed. But that isn’t exactly a plan everyone can follow 365 days a year. What about rain days or snowstorms?
Vitamin D is too important to neglect on days when sunshine isn’t an option. Vitamin D has been shown to play an important part in preventing depressive symptoms and negative emotions. That’s where getting more vitamin D in your diet comes in, but Vitamin D foods come in a limited range. Some of the foods richest in vitamin D include fish and foods fortified with vitamins like milk and orange juice.
- Fortified Orange Juice
- Fortified Cereals
Healthier Gut Foods To Reduce Inflammation
Evidence has shown a link between gut inflammation and developing symptoms of depression. Therefore, improving gut health could help lead to better mental health.
There are two ways to do this with prebiotics and probiotics. Probiotics are the bacteria that live in your gut, and prebiotics act as the food for them. Adding more probiotics and prebiotics to your diet can add more healthy bacteria and help feed them.
Great sources of probiotics include yogurt and fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchi. To get more prebiotics into your routine, look for high-fiber foods like whole oats and fruits and vegetables like apples, bananas, onions, and potatoes.
- Whole oats
- Cooked potatoes (cold)
While making better food choices can have a positive effect on your mental and physical wellbeing, it may not provide relief or be the solution for everyone. Be gentle with yourself while seeking answers. For some people who are experiencing anxiety or other mental health challenges, it may become necessary to seek support.
Fortunately, there’s more mental health treatment options available than ever before with the help of technology. One of those options is online therapy, which offers a more flexible way to participate in therapy that has been shown to be as effective as traditional in-office treatment.
With an online platform like BetterHelp online therapy, you have the ability to see a licensed therapist from the comfort of your own home. The process of getting started may be easier too than the conventional process of searching for a therapist who’s taking new patients and is in your neighborhood. Simply get in touch to begin the process of being matched with a licensed professional, which usually only takes 24-48 hours. Working with a licensed therapist can give you the support you need to come up with a treatment plan that meets your needs.