It can be very annoying when people tell you that exercise and diet will cure your anxiety and depression. I’ve been there and I have felt the frustration. But I also have personal experience with changing my diet (and exercise routine) to better my mental health and let me tell you – IT WORKS WONDERS. That’s why I have compiled a list of the best foods and nutrients for your mental health!

  Just want to let ya know: The information and tips on this website are from my personal experience with anxiety and are not a substitute for any type of medical, psychological or health advice. My goal is to empower people struggling with anxiety in non-traditional ways that they can do alongside professional help. 

There is always help out there, and you can find a mental health professional locally, through your doctor, or through an online directory like this one. This is a link to a great article with affordable therapy options and this is an affiliate link to a great online therapy option. If you are in a crisis, there’s a list of help hotlines here. You are not alone!!

Your Body Has Influence on Your Mind

Before we get into things, I want to talk about why what you put into your body is so powerful.

I’m coming out with another article soon about the connection between your mental, physical, and emotional health, but I’ll tell you the gist of it now: you have to care for all aspects of your wellness to feel well. So if you want to feel mentally well, you must also try to feel physically well as well. (Am I saying well too much?)

WELL, I want to tell you that I have been puzzled in the past about why I was so anxious and lethargic all the time. Yes it was partially because I was under a lot of stress, and I am naturally predisposed to anxiety, but I also was treating my body like sh*t! (See picture below for how tired I felt)

Your brain is a part of your body as much as any other organ, and to help it work at its best, you need to fuel it properly and not just feed it chips, pizza, and coffee, and leftover candy that you found on your floor like some people do (not me though… )

So anyway, enough about my friend (definitely not me), let’s get into the nutrients that are amazing for your mental health! Also, I want to mention that the BEST way to get these nutrients is from the foods you eat. Supplements can be good if you absolutely can’t get those things from your diet, but you should always talk to a doctor first before taking supplements!

1. B-vitamins

More specifically: folate (B9), Thiamine (B6), and Cobolamin (B12). These bad B(oy)s are feel good boosters and something that vegetarians and vegans are typically lacking in!

The best sources of B vitamins are beef, eggs, liver, seafood (oysters and clams), and dairy products.

You can also find them in legumes, leafy greens, seeds, and nutritional yeast!

2. Omega 3s

There is tons of research on why Omega 3 fatty acids are great for your brain and your heart. They are a good fat and they help in keeping your cells and neurons in tip top shape.

The best sources are oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. You can also find it in nuts and seeds, such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts.

3. Magnesium

Magnesium is excellent for reducing anxiety because it is a relaxant. It reduces tension in your muscles, and with less tension in the body, your mind will start to feel less tense as (think mind-body connection).

Sources of magnesium are green leafy vegetables, vegetables in general, fruit, legumes, and seafood.

4. Potassium

Potassium is another vitamin on the list of antidepressant nutrients and you can find it in oranges, cantaloupe, honeydew, apricots, prunes, cooked, spinach, cooked broccoli, and, as we all know, bananas.

5. Iron

Iron is an important nutrient for maintaining energy levels. People with iron deficiency typically feel lethargic which can contribute to feeling unwell. 

You can also get too much iron, which can also be bad for your health. It’s always good to check with a doctor to see if you need extra iron, however when just eating a moderate amount of foods that contain some iron, you are unlikely to have too much.

Foods that contain iron are red meat, beans and lentils, tofu, baked potato, cashews, greens, and enriched foods.

6. Selenium

Now I’ve gotten to the point where I’m going to stop talking about why the nutrient is good for you and just give you some sources.

Selenium can be found in brazil nuts, fish, ham, pork, and beef.

7. Zinc

Zinc can be found in meat, shellfish, legumes, seeds, nuts, dairy, eggs, and whole grains.

8. Vitamin A

Vitamin A can be found in spinach, sweet potato, carrots, beef liver, and cantaloupe.

The Bottom Line

Basically, after writing this and doing tons of research, the general consensus is that if you eat a balanced diet of whole foods and limit the amount of processed food you eat (or follow the Mediterranean diet, which has been speculated to be the best diet for mental health), your overall wellness (and mental wellness) will be much better.

You will have more energy and higher mental resilience and will therefore be able to better handle stressful situations and uncomfortable emotions.

Physical Health = Mental Health

As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, your mental wellness is dependant on your overall wellness. This means that you need to take care of all aspects of your health: mental, physical, and emotional. This means that you need to take care of your body and you also need to take care of your thoughts and emotions.

This is both a simple and complex process. On one hand, it can be very simple to take care of your wellness: eat well and exercise, focus on creating better thought patterns, and learn healthy ways to deal with your emotions.

Diving Deeper

In order to manage all aspects of your wellness, things can get complicated. It’s hard to know what works best for each individual since we are all special, unique snowflakes. But I always say that the best thing that you can do on your own is TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!

Self-care can help you with SO many aspects of your mental and physical wellness that it’s a no-brainer! If you want some extra self-care help, you can sign up for my self-care resource library! It contains journal worksheets, meal planner pages, habit trackers, and more to help you stay on top of your self-care! You can sign up below!

It contains a sample meal plan, journal exercises, relaxation techniques and much more!

It’s a great first step in helping you care for yourself in a way that works for you and start understanding your mental health in a holistic and manageable way.