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Food for Thought-Nutrition and Mental Health

Food for Thought-Nutrition and Mental Health

Food for thought? It turns out, this saying holds a lot more truth than you realize since proper nutrition plays an important role in your mental health, especially as you age.

Take this quote from Joan Katz, RD, Chief Dietitian at Christian Health (CHCC):

“Several studies are investigating the correlation between nutrition and mental health. How we feel can be a result of what we eat, and vice versa.”

This correlation is also because of the fact that the chemicals in the brain react to the type of nutrition it receives.

“If you eat a variety of healthy foods, including lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and low-fat dairy products, you are bound to obtain the nutrients which support a healthy body and mind,” Mrs. Katz says.

If you’re looking for some foods that are known to support good mental health, try:

  • Turkey
  • Walnuts
  • Wild salmon
  • Tuna
  • Skim milk
  • Green tea
  • Dark chocolate(Yummy!)

Turkey has a high level of tryptophan which stimulates serotonin production. Low levels of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that has a calming effect, are often found in people who suffer from depression. Walnuts, wild salmon, and tuna have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which support overall brain health,” Mrs. Katz says. “Skim milk and other low-fat dairy products are rich sources of calcium, vitamin D, and proteins that induce a sense of well-being and relaxationGreen tea contains theanine, an amino acid that may reduce stress. And dark chocolate helps release serotonin, but just remember that it’s calorie-dense, so only a little at a time!”

Did you know that when you eat also plays a role in how you feel?

“If you skip a meal, blood-sugar levels can fluctuate and cause mood swings,” says Linda Heiser, RD, CHCC’s dietitian who assists Ramapo Ridge Behavioral Health patients and Ramapo Ridge Partial-hospitalization Program consumers. “Skipping meals can also result in poor concentration. Stress can cause you to either overeat or skip meals. The optimal plan is to space meals and snacks three to four hours apart.”

For more information on mental-health topics, call (201) 848-4463, email, or visit