23/03/2016 07:42 GMT | Updated 28/12/2017 07:59 GMT

Three Simple Dietary Changes for Mental Health

What we put into our bodies immediately affects our mood.

Eating the right foods, and adjusting our diet slightly can make a major difference for good mental health.

A study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, reported that certain foods in our diet can make us feel depressed. In this study researchers followed more than 40,000 women, ages 50-77, for 12 years and found that those who ate foods such as soda, red meat, refined sugar and grains, like pasta and white bread were up to 41 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those who consumed more leafy greens.

We have the opportunity to improve our mood at each meal by what we put into our body. It makes sense that if we consume junk we are going to feel like junk. Foods high in refined sugar, gluten, genetically modified ingredients, non-organic dairy, non-organic soy, preservatives, flavorings, colorings, additives and processed meats may bring our mood up initially on a "sugar high" experience but then minutes later leave an anxious feeling in our body, a stressful nervous system, a guilty mind, bloating and inflammation. Natural whole foods that nourish our body properly leave us feeling satisfied and proud about our choice.

Here are 3 dietary changes that can improve mental health.


Elements that are essential for brain health include B vitamins, folate and zinc. People who get these micronutrients may have lower risk of depression, and have what they need to restore a chemical imbalance in the body. Foods that contain these components elevate our mood instantly.

Brain foods are "natural antidepressants" and include:

• Walnuts

• Berries; blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, goji berries

• Carrots

• Chia Seeds

• Flax Seeds

• Fish

• Avocado

• Oranges

• Bananas

• Tea

• Ginger

• Chocolate

The key is to eat a lot of fresh foods; fruits and vegetables.

Chocolate is high in magnesium and releases serotonin in our body making us feel excited and happy. The key is to eat "real" chocolate made from cacao, not the chocolate that contains refined sugar, dairy, soy and preservatives. I include this nutrient rich chocolate in my diet almost every single day. Here is one of my favorite recipes for

4 Ingredient Chocolate Balls

Total time 5 minutes

Makes 12 balls (you can also shape them into brownies)


1 cup of almond meal (you can also use any other nuts! Use TigerNut flour for a nut free alternative)

¼ cup of cacao powder

3 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey

1 tablespoon of water

Direction: Add all ingredients into a bowl and mix until well combined. Eat and enjoy instantly.


1. You can keep these in the fridge or freezer.

2. You can add a teaspoon of coconut oil and then roll them in shredded coconut for another flavor.


For good mental health we need to feed our brain with adequate nutrition. One way to ensure we get the foundation of nutrition we need every day is to have one fresh juice. It is medicine for our brains and cells. Either make it at home or go to a juice bar. If you don't have a juice machine you can buy them from $40, a great investment in you and your health. This is one thing I have committed to doing every single day and have done so for the past 6 years. We can't help but feel better after a juice. No matter how tough my day may have been, if I've had a juice I have peace of mind that I've taken really good care of my body that day!

Here is a really simple recipe that easy to remember:


Total time 5 minutes

Serves 1


1-2 green apples

1 cucumber

4 celery stalks

½ lemon with rind

1 thumbnail piece of ginger

Direction: Add all ingredients to your juice machine and drink immediately.


When we eat and drink the following, it can cause instant inflammation in the body which affects clarity and confidence in our thinking.

• Refined white sugar

• Corn syrup

• Gluten

• White flour

• Genetically modified ingredients (includes ingredients listed as numbers or things you cannot pronounce)

• Preservatives

• Additives

• Added colors and flavorings

• Processed meats

• Processed baked foods like cakes, cookies and bread

• Candy

• Dairy

• Soy

Scientists speculate that the pro-inflammatory nature of processed foods are what triggers depressive symptoms. The women whose diets were higher in these foods had elevated levels of known inflammatory markers: C-reactive protein, interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor α receptor 2.

If you do eat something that causes inflammation, drink a lemon water or a ginger tea to reduce swelling.

It's very easy to make ginger tea, just boil some chunks of whole ginger in water and then drink when warm. Ginger tea bags are also available.

A chemical imbalance in the body can cause or trigger depression, anxiety and other mental disorders. Processed foods can cause a chemical imbalance in the body whereas whole foods can ensure the body is getting all the nutrients it needs to keep a healthy balance.

These are the dietary changes that assist in keeping my mood elevated on a daily basis, and it also helped to break my addiction to junk foods which was a vicious cycle for 5 years. When we are going through really tough times in life it's extremely important to nourish our bodies and take care of ourselves. Instead of making destructive diet choices, I opted to fulfill all of my cravings in a more natural way. This natural lifestyle has transformed my mental, emotional and physical health.

Many of us are nutrient deficient and don't even know it - no wonder we might feel depressed! Our body is not getting the proper nutrition it needs to thrive and maintain consistent health. Nutrient deficiencies do not help in relieving depression.

Study author Almudena Sanchez-Villegas of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria said that researchers found that the people in the study who stuck to the healthy patterns to a moderate or a high extent had a lower risk of depression than those who did not follow these cleaner eating diets at all, or who adhered to them to a low degree. The researchers found that the people in the study who stuck to the healthy patterns to a moderate or a high extent had a lower risk of depression than those who did not follow these diets at all, or who adhered to them to a low degree.

The goal is to live a consistently healthy lifestyle for the rest of our life.

I put together this piece in honor of Mental Health awareness week to encourage people to enjoy healthy foods to develop and maintain healthy minds. The above suggested foods are also helpful for growing healthy brains in children.

Healthy foods can ensure a healthier state of mind.

The recipes are extracted from my book "The Earth Diet" published by Hay House.

#youngmindsmatter #theearthdiet #earthdiet #mentalhealth