CHENNAI: For the past nine months, the world has been facing COVID- 19’s wrath. People are trying to be in the best of health by improving their immunity. But the virus has taken a toll on many people’s mental health too.
Cases of stress, anxiety, loneliness, excessive fear or anger and difficulties in understanding others have been on the rise because of fear of infections, job losses, financial loss, lack of personal space and longer quarantine durations. Our mental health is normally linked to our appetite, especially stress.
When stressed, people tend to avoid eating or binge-eat or overeat. They also eat a lot of unhealthy foods, which is converted to fat deposits linked with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and weight gain. Stress can be managed by eating healthy foods and modifying our lifestyle
- Carbohydrates are basically mood-boosting foods. Include complex carbs such as fruits, vegetables, legumes than sugary items and simple carbohydrates.
- Include protein-rich foods such as chicken, turkey and fish (tuna, sardines, mackerel).They have tryptophan whichboosts your mind alertness and energy levels.
- Low level of minerals selenium and zinc is linked with dull mood. So, focus on seleniumrich foods such as nuts and seeds, whole grains such as brown rice, millets, oats, seafoods, lean meat, beans and legumes.
- Avoid caffeine, tea, soda intake. It can trigger anxiety and make it difficult for you to sleep at night.
- You can drink green tea instead of coffee. Its rich antioxidants help avoid cell damage.
- Include omega-3-rich foods such as nuts, seeds and fish to help prevent major depressive disorders.
- Do regular exercise and practise yoga to help handle stress.
- Getting enough sleep also balances mental health.
- Dehydration causes headache, increased heart rate, fatigue, drowsiness. Increasing water intake reduces the symptoms of dehydration and cravings.
- Include antioxidant-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and help to relieve stress-related symptoms.
- Include vitamin B12-rich foods like egg, poultry, fish, milk, dark leafy greens, nuts, beans and seafood. It protects and maintains the nervous system.
- Eating probiotic foods such as curd, buttermilk or yogurt after meals improves gut bacteria and they keep your brain healthy.
- Avoid junk foods, processed foods, fast foods like cakes, biscuits, chips and sugary items. They are all low in nutrients and high in calories.
- Eat frequent and small (healthy) meals, which will balance your frequent hunger.
The writer is founder and chief nutritionist at Sano Holistic Nutrition Clinic