“Organic” is quite the buzzword today. And for all the right reasons! The word “organic” refers to the methods through which certain foods are produced without using any artificial chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, or genetically engineered organisms. Essentially, a food item must be devoid of artificial food additives like artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colours and flavours to be labelled organic.
What is Organic Food?
“Organic” is a label given by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to foods produced under specific standards. These methods integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. In making such foods, synthetic fertilizers, irradiation, and genetic engineering are not used.
But there’s more to it as organic farming relies on biodiversity, composting, and natural defenders against diseases and insects. It helps farmers stay more connected to the natural rhythms and local biodiversity.
Organic farming arose in the 1940s to combat the negative trends in industrial agriculture. Its primary goal is to foster the intercommunity of soil life, plants, and people. It takes a broader approach to food production. Organic farming seeks to cultivate healthy soil, full of vibrant microorganisms to make it the perfect breeding ground for healthy crops.
Food and your Mind
In case of traditional farming, pesticides and other hazardous chemicals are widely employed, which have been shown to harm brain functioning and development. On the contrary, organic food is grown without using such hazardous chemicals. There are an estimated 45 pesticides in the market, many of which have been proven to negatively affect the brain and the nervous system. Therefore, using organic products is one of the easiest ways to minimize your exposure to such harmful chemicals. The key to a healthy and powerful brain is organic food. For instance, sugar and other processed foods can cause inflammation in the brain, which can lead to mental health problems including anxiety and sadness. A case in point is when we’re anxious or sad, we typically turn to a fast pick-me-up.
From our childhood, we are told about the importance of eating a good diet for our growing needs. We know that to feel our physical best, we need to have lots of water, reduce junk, and have a balanced diet but the correlation between good food and mental health isn’t emphasized at all.
A healthy, balanced diet helps clear the mind and makes us feel alert, besides increasing our attention span and concentration. Conversely, a poor diet can create fatigue, impair decision-making, and result in depression and stress.
Ample research indicates that western diets, full of highly processed foods, can lead to increased chances of depression and anxiety. That’s because processed food and sugary stuffs are addictive and stimulate our brain’s dopamine centres, the brain parts associated with pleasure and reward. In fact, sugary and processed foods result in inflammation of the brain and, which aggravates anxiety and depression. Contrarily, food groups that contribute significantly to our overall wellness are fresh in nature and include all essential minerals and vitamins.
Brain Booster Foods
To boost your brain functioning, eat plenty of organic fruits and vegetables, as well as omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods like salmon, to improve your mental wellness. Omega-3 fatty acids are critical for normal brain function and development as they preserve the cell membrane health and facilitate neural communication. Magnesium is a key nutrient for mental stability: it calms the nervous system by blocking brain N-methyl D-aspartate receptors (NMDA), inhibiting excitatory neurotransmission. Calcium regulates neuronal functions such as neurotransmitter synthesis and release, neuronal excitability, and much more.
Dark green leafy veggies, in particular, protect and nurture the brain. Besides these foods, nuts, seeds, and legumes like beans and lentils are proven to be good for the brain. To benefit from them, you can simply include such organic foods in your daily routine. You can begin with breakfast, the most important meal of the day. For example, you can replace your routine cup of coffee with a cup of milk equivalent to 8 Ounces. Add 6-7 almonds to it, which will not only keep you energetic but also help you stay more focused. If you feel famished in the middle of the night, munch on some nuts or fruits instead of non-organic food.
Mental Health Boosters
They include complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and fatty acids. Brain foods are essential for the optimum functioning of the nervous system and building new proteins, tissues, and cells.
In place of the all-purpose flour, include organic whole wheat, brown rice and starchy vegetables. In addition, you may include sweet potatoes, quinoa, millet, and beets to feel fuller and get essential nutrients.
Lean proteins contribute to overall wellness by giving us the energy to think and react quickly. Sources of lean proteins include soybean, chicken, meat, fish, nuts, and seeds.
Fatty acids, found in meat, eggs, fish, nuts, and flaxseeds, are another important brain booster food. Fatty acids like omega 3 maintain the nerve-cell membranes. Medically, low omega-3 levels are linked to information-processing problems found among people suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar, obsessive-compulsive, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders as well as Huntington’s disease.
Apart from these foods, in a healthy diet you need to include high levels of zinc, iron, and Vitamin C as well as B12. These minerals reduce the chances of depression, improve mood, and prevent nervous disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
Diet Tips For Better Mental Health
- Avoid eating processed snacks – potato chips, candies, and soft drinks -as much as possible as they reduce your ability to concentrate and impair energy levels.
- Include healthy fats in your good diet, like coconut oil, avocado, peanuts, etc. Healthy fat is good for your heart and supports proper brain functioning.
- Snack healthy with fruits, baked sweet potatoes, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, etc.
- Stay away from shopping for junk food. The less junk you shop for, the less junk you’ll eat!
- Don’t binge on food. Have food in small portion sizes and eat frequently to maintain your energy levels and ensure the proper functioning of your brain.