Welcome back to healthy eating week, where today I’d like to discuss how getting our 5 a day can really help our mental health. There are days that even as a vegetable fiend I just don’t get my 5 a day. I do try but sometimes it’s an impossibility. As I said yesterday if there are medical conditions that make this impossible for you, consult your doctor about safer ways to include more fruit and veg.
What is a portion? An adult sized portion should be about 80 grams of fresh, frozen or canned or 30g of dried fruits. 150ml of fruit or vegetable juice or a smoothie is also a portion, but do tryto limit these to 150ml per day. There are some simple ways to add more fruit and veg to your diet. You can add extra fruit and veg to the things you already know and love. Add extra vegetables to pasta sauces, pizzas, soups, sandwiches etc.
Clear out the junk food.
Even those of us with the best intentions could be sidetracked to a chocolate biscuit instead of a fresh apple. If it’s not in the house, it ain’t there to tempt you. Even just replacing one snack a day for an extra portion of fruit or veg is a great first step. Vegetable sticks with a dip is a great option if you are not too keen on fruit. A hummus or a salsa is a great way to be adding more fibre as we went into yesterday.
Why Beneficial to Mental Health?
So now to the point, why is this so beneficial to our mental health? Let’s see what I found. There are so many vitamins and minerals that would take me forever to explain them all and why they affect us, so I will only explain a few of the main ones that affect our mental health. I’ll also give a few examples of what vegetables have these specific vitamins and minerals.
Low levels of folate have been linked to depression. We can find folate of folic acid in leafy green veg, spinach, romaine lettuce, asparagus, broccoli.
Depression, tiredness, lethargy, insomnia – sound familiar?
When we don’t have enough vitamin B1 we have problems like memory loss, anxiety, depression, irritability and insomnia. Vitamin B1 is found in cauliflower, oranges, potatoes, asparagus and kale.
Vitamin B deficiency can show extreme tiredness, lack of energy, breathlessness, feeling faint, headaches, pale skin, palpitations. This is of course if it is an extreme deficiency. Foods that contain vitamin B are spinach, beetroot, potatoes, mushrooms, and alfalfa.
Not having enough vitamin D is linked to depression. Our bodies can produce it naturally by being in the sun, but we can also help our bodies out with things like oranges, mushrooms, spinach, kale and okra.
I have covered 4 but there are so many more to consider. This just gives a great example of how important what we eat really is. We need these vitamins and minerals and the fibre to keep us not only physically fitter but also mentally healthier. They help us by giving us more energy and help us think more clearly.
I hope you have enjoyed today’s short piece and look forward to discussing proteins tomorrow.
Families in Trauma and Recovery Volunteer – M