Coronavirus: How A Nourishing Diet Can Help Improve Mental Health During Lockdown
Coronavirus tips: A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grain, fish and unsaturated fats like olive oil has been advised for ensuring mental health, as these foods have the essential vitamins and minerals that are required to fuel the brain.
Plan a diverse lockdown menu to take care of your physical and mental health
- Add nutrients to your meal that boost immunity
- Start a clean food diet
- Cut carbs, sugar or fats and increase intake of proteins and fibre
Mental health tips: It is of utmost importance that while we are confined to our homes with minimal face-to-face interaction with the outer world, our mental peace remains intact. It is normal for people to experience boredom induced anxiety and depression and lingering headaches due to stress. Stress levels in turn have adverse impacts on the immunity, which is the last thing that we would expect amidst a pandemic. The key to maintaining your mental health is associated with two aspects keeping your body active and a rich healthy diet. Simple exercises like walking indoors, stretching or yoga can be very helpful in keeping the mind and body active.
Mental health amidst lockdown: Expert advice
Maintaining a happy state of mind goes hand in hand with preserving and boosting immunity. Add nutrients to your meal that boost immunity and beat stress by releasing neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain. Since about 95% of serotonin is produced in our gastrointestinal tract, it is proved that proper functioning of the digestive system does not just help digest food, but also guides emotions. So, target immune-boosting foods that have a dual effect - you may feel less anxious and it will help boost your immunity.
To begin with, it is important to monitor how different kinds of food makes you feel. Start a clean food diet, which means cut carbs, sugar or any kinds of fats and increase intake of proteins and fibre in your diet for a week or two, and then slowly get back to your normal routine. Do a comparison of how you felt before and after going through this change.
A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grain, fish and unsaturated fats like olive oil has been advised for ensuring mental health, as these foods have the essential vitamins and minerals that are required to fuel the brain. A poor diet that is high on saturated fats, carbs and sugar has proved to worsen mood disorders including anxiety and depression.
Therefore, plan a lock down menu with meals of fresh whole foods, vegetables and fruits, at regular intervals. Ensure intake of antioxidants in the form of Vitamin A, C and E and D, to reduce boredom induced anxiety.
Staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging for everyone, and the increased anxiety (and boredom) can cause people to abandon their healthy eating habits, become lazy and snack on whatever is around. But with a little thought and planning, you can continue to make better life choices in terms of physical fitness and food to restore their mental health.
(Dr Tarun Sahni, Internal Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi)
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