Your mood and your food are more closely related than you realize and you never outgrow the need for proper nutrition. Studies have shown a healthy diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables can have a significant positive impact on your mental health at all stages of your life. The benefits of fruits and vegetables are well-documented. They support vibrant health with a vast array of important nutrients including vitamins, minerals, fiber and immune-boosting antioxidants.
According to the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, the antioxidants in fresh produce help battle the free radicals that contribute to cognitive decline. Studies show that older adults who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables are happier, healthier and more active than those who don’t. The antioxidants that are found in plant-based foods also boost the immune system and reduce the risks for diseases, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Following are some of the fruits and vegetables that offer an abundance of depression-fighting antioxidants:
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and mustard greens
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower
Bright colorful vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and red bell peppers.
Fruits such as apples, oranges, plums, blueberries, strawberries and apples
When shopping for fruits and vegetables, choose locally grown organic produce. Organic produce is grown without the use of synthetic chemicals or toxic fertilizers. Most produce in the U.S. is shipped for four to seven days before it reaches the supermarket shelf. Long transports of produce negatively affect freshness, flavor and nutritional value.
Several studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can also boost cognitive function. Foods rich in omega-3’s include fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines. Fish has long been hailed as “brain food” because of the role that omega 3’s play in cognitive function. Flaxseed is another potent source of omega-3s.
Contrary to popular belief, depression, memory loss and senility are not inevitable aspects of the aging process. Proper nutrition supports overall good health and the mood/food connection is very real. While it is important to eat the right foods it is equally important to avoid the wrong ones. Over processed foods, sugar, fatty foods, alcohol and caffeine can exacerbate the symptoms of depression.
Because many older adults don’t get all of the nutrients they need from their diets many choose to use nutritional supplements to prevent depression and other age-related conditions. Vitamin and mineral supplements are available at the Institute for Vibarnt Living and many are specifically targeted to meet the nutritional needs of older adults. Regular exercise, adequate rest, social interaction and mental stimulation are also important for vibrant physical and mental health.
Fill your plate with happy foods and see the difference it makes in your life!