Yesterday was Mental Health Awareness Day and can I just tell you....I'm no stranger to it.
...and as a Health Coach, this topic pops up every single day in my private groups and has some of the best discussion of any subjects that come up.
Why? Because so many women are struggling with their mental health.
Whether it's anxiety, depression, ADHD, bipolar, panic attacks, memory loss....our go-go-go lifestyle and lack of nutrition has put extra stress on the nervous system that it just can't manage at times.
In Summit Fit Academy, we spend a lot of time working on our gut health because of it's link to brain health. It's one of the hottest researched topics in science right now because of the rise in food allergies, autoimmune disease, autism and poor mental health, all which are heavily linked to poor gut health.
After having my gut health absolutely destroyed from a parasite I picked up from Africa back in 2006, I've spent years rebuilding my gut flora and now teaching others how to do the same.
The experience left me with permanent autoimmune and IBS issues that I regulate by managing my dietary intake.
I feel my absolute best when I am gluten + dairy-free for long periods of time. This includes my moods, mental focus, energy levels and digestion. I've found the key is learning new recipes that I and my family love so the focus is on adopting a healing lifestyle rather than one of restriction.
In addition to removing those two foods, following the 5 steps below makes a tremendous difference on my overall mental state. I'm much more relaxed, focused and energized when I use food and lifestyle to support my body well. Truly, I can't emphasize enough how the actions below change my mental health for the better.
1. Increase Intake of Magnesium and Vitamin D3.
Magnesium has been shown to relax the mind and body, reduce restless leg syndrome and be a powerful tool for decreasing symptoms of depression.
Women are notoriously deficient in this mineral and can see immediate improvements upon increased intake.
Additionally, most people are deficient in Vitamin D, shown to increase your risk for cancers and mental health disorders. Getting 15 minutes of direct sun exposure per day is a great way to improve your levels (hello happy sunshine), but I highly recommend supplementing as most people never get even close to the amount they need for improvements.
Lastly, it's important to not eat low-fat as this further depletes vitamin d levels in the body. As you'll notice, many of the foods listed below are high in fat!
Foods high in vitamin D: wild-caught salmon, mackerel and sardines; pasture-raised eggs, raw milk, caviar and mushrooms.
Foods high in magnesium: dark chocolate, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, bananas, cashews.
2. Consume Wild-Caught Fish 3 x Week (or supplement).
The reason wild-caught fish is so amazing for mental health is because the omega-3-fatty acids that are present provide incredible support to the brain.
Fish that are cold-water raised and fatty are what you're looking for to get that amazing brain boost.
Fish high in omega-3-fatty acids: (you're looking for wild-caught only for these benefits) Alaskan salmon, mackerel, sardines, Atlantic cod, anchovies, oysters, rainbow trout, albacore tuna, mussels, Pacific halibut, rockfish.
....someone take me to the beach!!
3. Increase Dark Leafy Green Intake
Dark leafy greens, one of the 6 Power Foods™ in Summit Fit Academy, provide a good source of Vitamin B6, which helps regulate our levels of serotonin. When serotonin is not regulated properly, mood disorders are often present.
Vitamin B6 also plays a role in developing our neurotransmitters, which is the messenger system for the brain! When neurotransmitters are not firing properly, we end up with a lot of issues in brain health.
Foods high in Vitamin B6: dark leafy greens (spinach, swiss chard, arugula, kale, etc) grass-fed beef, pistachios, pinto beans, avocado, chicken + turkey breast, blackstrap molasses, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.
....again, notice all of the high-fat foods listed! Fat feeds your brain guys!
4. Build a Healthy Gut and Supplement with a Probiotic.
When mind-health is compromised, it's almost guaranteed you'll find someone with poor gut health. With so many environmental and lifestyle factors working against our gut health, it's important to focus on supporting our microbiome as much as possible.
Things you can do are replacing high-sugar foods and pastries with whole fruit like berries, apples and grapefruit. Additionally, eating fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut and more on a daily basis helps repopulate healthy gut bacteria.
Foods that support a healthy gut: raw, fermented foods; dark leafy greens, grass-fed/pasture-raised protein, vegetables of any kind, low sugar fruits like berries and apples, good fats like avocado and coconut oil.
Whether its a mood you're in or you just need focus, music has a way of helping you with both.
I remember in high school my history teacher would play classical music during our tests. As a student who struggled with test-taking and academics in general, the way I was able to focus in his class because of the music was absolutely amazing.
To this day, if I'm having issues focusing on work, I will create a play list that gets me energized and focused. If I'm needing to relax, I put on the appropriate music to do so.
P.S. This can be powerful for your kids as well.
If you're struggling to make sense of where to begin with living a healthy lifestyle, Summit Fit Academy puts all of these actions into one course to make sure you are successful at seeing amazing change in your body. We focus on habits rather than restriction so the process is enjoyable and sustainable. Grab your spot today!