Top Nutrition Tips for Improved Mental Health in 2024

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"In addition to exercise, incorporating other healthy lifestyle habits into your routine can also help improve mental health in 2024 and beyond."

Top Nutrition Tips for Improved Mental Health

It’s never too late to make a resolution to eat well and commit to healthier lifestyle habits for the months ahead. While eating nutritious food is essential for everyone, if you or your child struggle with anxiety or an attention disorder, it’s even more critical, as studies show poor nutrition can exacerbate symptoms of both.1, 2 

Read on to find out how to improve mental health with food with the top nutrition trips buzzing in 2024.

Nutrition Trends in the New Year

From paying closer attention to added sugars to taking care of your gut, there are numerous nutrition trends gaining momentum in 2024. Incorporating plenty of vitamin-rich foods into your diet, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins are allowing people to aim for eating more quality food, instead of focusing on eating less. And nutrition isn’t just about food either. Health-driven foodies are also looking at their water intake and taking hydration more seriously, maybe even tracking it on their smartwatches. 

How Nourishing Foods Aid Mental Health

Nourishing foods provide the essential nutrients needed for optimal brain function and mental well-being. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish like salmon, as well as edamame, chia seeds, and walnuts are known to support cognitive function and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.3 Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, such as berries, spinach, and kale, help combat oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain, promoting a balanced mood and resilience. Studies show antioxidants help the body create new neurons in the part of your brain that supports your emotions.4 Additionally, whole grains provide a steady source of energy and can help stabilize mood by regulating blood sugar levels.5

Safely reduce anxiety, impulsivity and lack of focus in children, teens and adults.

Tips to Improve Mental Health Through Food

To integrate some of the top nutrition trends of the year into your routine, check out the tips below. Learn how to start improving your mental health through food and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety while promoting whole-body health.

Plan a Balanced Diet

Take the time to plan out your meals and snacks to ensure they are nutritionally balanced, consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and unsaturated oils and spreads. One easy way to ensure you’re incorporating a variety of foods into your diet is to  “eat the rainbow,” which refers to eating foods in varied colors. Think green spinach, purple eggplants, yellow lemons, orange sweet potatoes, etc. Meal prepping and planning can help you stick to your dietary goals and avoid impulsive food choices, and it can also reduce the daily stress of figuring out what to eat each day.

Include Vitamin-Rich Foods

Incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables in various colors into your diet ensures you're getting a wide spectrum of nutrients. Aim to fill half of your plate with colorful produce at each meal. Here’s how different vitamins are related to cognitive function and mood:

  • Vitamins C & D: Both vitamins C and D have been shown to help reduce depressive symptoms.6 Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, peppers, strawberries, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish, fish liver oils, and some mushrooms.
  • Vitamin B complex: There is some evidence that a deficiency in vitamin B12 can potentially hinder your memory, and cause cognitive impairment.7 Vitamin B12 deficiency may also cause symptoms of anxiety.8 Low levels of vitamin B9, or folate, have also been linked to depression.9 To add more vitamin B foods to your diet, opt for foods like nuts, peas, whole-grain breads, and liver.
  • Vitamin E: Studies show that eating foods rich in vitamin E intake may help to reduce both anxiety and depressive symptoms.10 Some foods high in vitamin E include red bell peppers, almonds, peanuts, spinach, and pumpkin.
  • Vitamin K: Vitamin K, found in foods like leafy greens, broccoli, blueberries, and eggs, is also associated with lower depressive symptoms in studies.11

Limit Sugar, Processed Foods, Caffeine & Alcohol

Moderation is key when it comes to sugary treats, processed foods, caffeinated drinks, and alcohol, as they are known to exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and depression, .12, 13 There is some evidence that these kinds of foods can negatively impact levels of certain neurotransmitters related to mood and cause blood sugar spikes and crashes, which can make symptoms of anxiety worse.14

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated, as even mild dehydration can impair cognitive function and mood. When the body is dehydrated, the adrenal glands release excess cortisol, triggering the fight-or-flight response and causing increased anxiety.15 In one Iranian study, the lowest level of water intake (less than two glasses per day) compared with five or more glasses a day, doubled the risk of depression and anxiety.16 

Practice Mindful Eating

Slow down and pay attention to your food choices and eating habits. Eat slowly, savoring each bite, and listen to your body's hunger and fullness cues. Mindful eating has been shown to increase your awareness of hunger and fullness cues, so you can better distinguish between emotional and physical hunger.16 It will also help you become more aware of triggers that make you want to eat, even when you’re not actually hungry, so you can cope with these triggers in a more productive manner.

How Good Nutrition & Fitness Play into Mental Health

In addition to nutrition, regular physical activity is essential for maintaining good mental health. Exercise releases endorphins, neurotransmitters that promote feelings of happiness and well-being. It can also improve sleep, which is crucial for maintaining a balanced mood. Aim for a combination of cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility exercises to support both physical and mental health.

In addition to exercise, incorporating other healthy lifestyle habits into your routine can also help improve mental health in 2024 and beyond. Proper nutrition is one of the key components to Brillia’s 5 Pillar methodology, which outlines healthy lifestyle behaviors proven to reduce anxiety, irritability, restlessness, and other symptoms related to mood regulation and focus. The other pillars are adequate sleep, controlled screen time, and mindfulness

Once you have modified your lifestyle, taking a non-prescription medication like Brillia can offer more support as you adjust to these healthier behaviors. Brillia is a homeopathic medication clinically proven to reduce symptoms anxiety and stress while improving focus and mental clarity without harsh, synthetic chemicals or harmful side effects. Brillia’s active ingredient consists of antibodies to the brain-specific S100B protein, a key regulator of many different cellular processes. In regulating this protein, Brillia helps to stabilize monoamines like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine for a more balanced mood. Gentle and impactful, Brillia achieves these effects without altering blood chemistry or affecting any other systems in the body. Learn more about how Brillia works alongside the 5 Pillars, including proper nutrition, for improved mood regulation. And find more tips on how to modify your diet and make other long-term lifestyle changes to support your mental health at the Brillia(nce) Resource Center.

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References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
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