According to a report published by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 43.8 million adults experience mental illness in a year. Sixteen million (7%) of American adults live with major depression while 42 million (18%) live with anxiety disorders. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Every year, mental illness costs America $193 billion. The data shows the kind of impact mental illness has on people and the seriousness of the mental health situation in America and all over the world.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. The organization also stresses that mental health is not just the absence of a mental disorder. It is the state that enables an individual to become a useful and productive member of a community. Mental health problems manifest in a variety of ways: anxiety, mood disorders, schizophrenia, depression, etc.
Due to the pervasiveness of the problem, several organizations have been formed in order to address the situation and offer mental health services to the public. A few of the leading organizations are Mental Health America (MHA), National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH), and NAMI. Their work is focused on mental health research, education, and helping people address their mental health problems, including sponsoring mental health awareness campaigns on depression, suicide, and other mental problems.
Superfoods is a collective term used to refer to natural foods rich in nutrients and are beneficial for a person's health. These include fruits, vegetables, seeds, and grains. What sets superfoods apart from regular healthy foods is that the former have ten or more nutritional properties while the latter have only two to three. Superfoods generally contain a large percentage of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, and other substances that contribute to a healthy body.
In a world filled with work stress and unhealthy food, superfoods play a vital role in countering the effects of unhealthy lifestyles. Due to the abundance of unhealthy food and because they are quicker to prepare, people usually take the unhealthy option when it comes to their diet. This often results in illnesses and diseases that have long-term health consequences. Having superfoods in one's diet, therefore, is a step towards a healthier and longer life.
There are many types of superfoods, and they each offer several benefits to the human body. These include green superfoods such as wheat grass, spirulina, lettuce, spinach, and broccoli, fruits and nuts such as acai berries, blueberries, almonds, and coconut, herb superfoods such as ginseng, ginger, aloe vera, and turmeric, and other superfoods such as grassfed ghee, honey, and royal jelly.
How Superfoods Address Mental Health
While it is true that a huge aspect of mental health is psychological, another aspect involved is diet. This is why doctors occasionally prescribe certain medicines to patients undergoing depression. This is because mental health problems also have biological manifestations and that is where superfoods come in handy.
Three of the most common mental health issues are anxiety, depression, and stress. Due to the abundance of responsibilities, expectations, ambitions, and other society-related factors, these mental problems are often inevitable. What one can do, however, is try to manage them with superfoods.
According to a study published in 2017, Magnesium, Zinc, Omega-3, Vitamin B, Vitamin D3 and other food supplements contribute to mental health by improving one’s mood and relieving anxiety and depression. Magnesium, in particular, is very important for optimal health, and the lack thereof is correlated to depression and anxiety regardless of age, gender, or race.
Superfoods such as dark chocolate, asparagus, acai Berries, and almonds help improve mental health by providing the above-mentioned nutrients, thereby, reducing cortisol (a stress hormone) and other factors related to anxiety and panic attacks.
Other recommended superfoods for mental health are spirulina, coconut, oranges, ghee, organic whey protein, maca powder, and green tea. They provide additional nutrients such as folate and antioxidants, which are good for a sound mind and healthier body.
As a conclusion, there could be a diet aspect to addressing mental health problems. They could be not solved by just having a good psychological state of mind. Any solution to these issues may go hand-in-hand with good nutrition to achieve the goal of maintaining good mental health.