Now that school has started again for the kids and our workload is likely to be picking up during the fall months, being alert, energetic and thinking clearly is more important than ever. Research is increasingly showing a correlation between a healthy diet and good mental health. The following information discusses how your diet affects overall mental health, possible foods that have a direct influence on mental functioning, and how to follow the healthiest diet possible for both physical and mental health.

How Our Diet Affects Mental Health

According to WebMD, nearly 25 percent of all Americans have some sort of mental illness. And it’s not just a problem that affects adults. With the increased pressure and stress in each of our daily lives it’s not a surprise that more than 17 million children in the United States are affected by mental illness. Scientists are discovering that nutrition can have both a positive and negative impact on our ability to function mentally in a variety of ways. In simplest terms, diet is critical for proper brain development. This makes it extremely important to make sure our kids eat a healthy diet while they are still physically and mentally developing. More specifically, certain nutrients in food can help increase the connections between brain cells.

How Specific Foods Can Contribute to Mental Functioning

While juggling careers and family, keeping track of everything our children eat can seem overwhelming. There are, however, some simple steps we can take to improve our children’s diet and improve their overall mental functioning. B-vitamins, which are found in eggs, bananas and milk, can help lower the rates of depression. Omega-3s, which are in foods such as salmon, walnuts and green leafy veggies, can improve memory and overall thinking. Foods such as beef, beans and nuts, which are rich in Zinc, can help the body respond better to stress. Even if it’s just a bowl of cereal or a banana, make sure your children never skip breakfast. Mental Health America states that skipping meals can lead to fatigue and “brain fog” throughout the morning.

It’s important to remember that making even a few basic changes can create habits that improve your family’s brain functioning. Incorporating a few new foods into your children’s diet will not only improve their physical, but mental health. Finally, a good tip to keep in mind when grocery shopping is to stick to the perimeter of the store. Healthy fresh and refrigerated foods are kept in this section and make it easier to select items that will boost brain health.

For more information on mental health or general wellness, contact RodriguezMD.