Nutrition & Brain Health: Understanding the impact of the foods we eat on our Mental Health


Have you thought about the importance of the nutritional status of your brain health? Every year more and more people are extremely interested in ways of helping their bodies to function optimally. When we think of having good quality of life throughout the years, the brain is one of the main organs that we should be supporting, in the best way possible. 

What we choose to eat is important in maintaining good mental health. This is a statement, especially in the last two decades, that researchers have brought to the table in many studies. 

One expample of it is a systematic review study published in 2018 by PubMed called "Healthy dietary indices and risk of depressive outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies" (1) this study concluded that adhering to a healthy diet, in particular a traditional Mediterranean diet, or avoiding a pro-inflammatory diet appears to confer some protection against depression in observational studies. 

Our brain uses Glucose for energy, but it requires other various nutrients for its health and appropriate functioning. Within the nutrients that are important for our brain, Omega 3 is one of the most important, as it is essential in the transmission of nerve impulses; needed for normal brain function. Sources of Omega 3 are Mackerel, Salmon, Sardines, Flax Seeds, Walnuts, Pecans, Chia Seeds, and first cold pressed Olive Oil. 

Many scientific studies have correlated Depression with Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D known as the "Sunshine Vitamin", is synthesized in our skin when we are exposed to direct sunlight. Unfortunately, in country's with seasons, we do not have sunlight all the time, leading to Vitamin D deficiency in many people, which will effect it's many roles in the brain. Vitamin D sources are Pink Salmon, Egg Yolk, Mackeral and Sardines. It is important to consider that Vitamin D can be toxic to our bodies, and for this reason, supplementation with Vitamin D needs to be discussed with your doctor and nutritionist. 

Magnesium is an important nutrient that plays a role in more than 400 enzymatic functions in the body. Magnesium inhibits stress hormones from gaining access to the brain and helps to modulate stress responses. This means including magnesium sources in our diet is very important along with supplementation. In my experience I have learned that magnesium citrate and magnesium bis-glycinate are the best supplements for their absorption levels in the body. However, it is important to consult with your nutritionist and doctor as to what is the best magnesium supplement for you. 

Antioxidants such as Vitamin C, A, E and coenzyme Q10 are essential for brain protection in avoiding oxidative stress as our brain is highly sensitive to oxidation. You can find high levels of antioxidants in blueberries, broccoli, spinach and kale. In general fruits and vegetables with dark red, dark green and purple colors. 

It is also important to consume a diet with healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, and avocados, and enough protien to support brain health. 

In conclusion a poor diet can greatly impact our brain functions and can be a contributing factor in some mental health conditions such as Depression, Anxiety, Alzheimer's and Dementia. 

Remember what we choose to eat or not eat will define in part, the quality of your life. What can you do to enhance your health and wellbeing?

Lassale, C., Batty, G. D., Baghdadi, A., Jacka, F., Villegas, Kivimaki, M., Akbaraly, T. Healthy Dietery Indices and risk of Depressive Outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies.

Betsy Castaneda - Certified Nutritionist, CNP, NNCP 
On Instagram @elitefoodtherapy


  1. A great reminder to get back to the blueberries, kale and easy to fall off the wagon then wonder why you're not feeling so great!

    1. So true! I too forget, or get comfortable afer awhile and then wonder why I feel lethargic, tired and stressed.


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