Boosting Your Mental Health: Foods to Eat and Avoid

The Article is Developed in Partnership with BetterHelp.

When it comes to your mental well-being, it can be an all-around effort to stay healthy. From exercising regularly to getting enough sleep to making time to connect with loved ones, several aspects and areas of life can determine how resilient, focused, and refreshed you feel. One of the most essential steps you can take to maintain and even boost your mental health is eating foods that nourish your body and mind. In this article, we’ll discuss five different foods that can promote positive mental wellness and five foods that can harm it.

5 Foods To Eat To Boost Your Mental Health

The following five foods can help you improve your mental health:

  1. Whole grains: Rather than eating refined grains like white flour, rice, and bread, it’s healthier to choose whole grain foods like brown rice, quinoa, barley, whole oats, bulgur, wild rice, and more. Whole grains can boost your energy, stabilize your mood, and help you maintain focus during the day.
  2. Avocados: Avocados have a high number of fatty acids, which are known for balancing hormones, positively influencing mood, and reducing inflammation. This means eating avocados can help alleviate mental health conditions like anxiety and depression as well as concerns like stress.
  3. Nuts: Nuts can promote brain health, as they’re full of omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats are known to safeguard the brain against inflammation and improve cognitive functions like memory, thinking, and attention span. You may even lower your risk of dementia by eating nuts regularly. The healthiest types of nuts are almonds, pistachios, pecans, macadamia, peanuts, walnuts, and hazelnuts—without any added sugar or salt.
  4. Berries: Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and other types of berries can be powerful foods in improving mental health. Not only are they full of antioxidants, which can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, but they also cause neurological reactions in the brain which can improve cognitive function and mood.
  5. Salmon: Salmon is a fatty fish full of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, each of which can help regulate levels of serotonin in the body. Serotonin is a natural chemical in the body responsible for regulating mood and the sleep/wake cycle. When you have healthy levels of serotonin in your body, you may be less prone to conditions like depression, which causes a persistently sad mood. Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule can also be vital to your mental health, as it allows you to be energized and focused throughout the day.

Foods To Avoid To Improve Your Mental Health

The five foods below can be harmful to your mental well-being, particularly if you consume them regularly:

  1. Chips: Chips are a highly processed and fried food known for having a negative impact on physical and mental wellness. They contain a chemical called acrylamide, which can contribute to symptoms of anxiety and depression and cause inflammation in the brain over time.
  2. Soda: Soda contains high levels of sugar and has no essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals. Sugar can lead to inflammation and promote the development of depression and other kinds of mood disorders. Soda can also increase your propensity to stress and even suicidal ideation.
  3. Alcohol: Studies have found that those who drink alcohol are more likely to struggle with mental health concerns. Likewise, people who have pre-existing mental health conditions are more likely to turn to alcohol to attempt to cope with their symptoms. While alcohol may provide temporary relief, this effect eventually wears off, leading to higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.
  4. Syrup: Adding syrup to your pancakes or waffles in the morning may not be doing you any favors and could even be making your mental health worse. Syrups are typically full of high-fructose corn syrup, which can overwhelm the brain with glucose. The brain may become inflamed as a result, leading to fatigue as well as conditions like depression.
  5. Artificial sweeteners: Diet soda, cereals, frozen meals, gum, and other foods often have artificial sweeteners such as aspartame in them. Aspartame can contribute to cognitive and behavioral concerns like anxiety, depression, irritability, and insomnia. It can also cause difficulties with learning and memory.

Other Ways To Improve Your Mental Health

Beyond eating healthy, nutritious foods, it can be critical to look after your mental wellness in other ways. For example, it can be crucial to find coping skills that help you feel better when you’re stressed, anxious, or depressed. Practicing self-care and going to therapy can also be beneficial. You may choose to attend therapy in person or online, depending on your needs and comfort level. To learn more about the benefits of online therapy, you can visit the following link: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/counseling/the-benefits-of-online-mental-health-counseling/.


Remember that moderation can be key to maintaining a healthy diet. While certain foods may be detrimental to your mental health, know that it’s okay to eat them occasionally. Maintaining positive mental well-being is about more than what you eat. It’s also about taking care of your body through exercise, stimulating your mind with hobbies and friendships, and soothing your brain with restful sleep. By approaching your mental health with care and consideration, you can ensure you’re caring for yourself effectively.

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