As part of OMD UK’s Minerva Employee Council’s initiatives for Mental Health Awareness week, we were lucky enough to have Nutrionist, Nicola Shubroook come in and talk to us about eating for mental strength. Nicola is ex-agency, and therefore can really relate to the everyday stresses that we face and how an ever increasing to-do list can really impact our mental health and overall well-being.
So you may be thinking, how is nutrition/food related to mental health? Well, the answer to that is simple… it’s a two-way thing – our brain influences our gut and our gut influences our behaviour and mood. The solution is simple, if we boost our gut, we boost our mental health.
In order to boost our gut, we must avoid the three ‘gut evils’:
- Substances that kill or damage our gut such as sugar, alcohol, toxins, antibiotics and medications (when overprescribed)
- Lack of nutrients
I know these may seem hard to avoid but as long as follow the below key food rules we’re on the right path to a healthy, happier gut:
- Drink more water – it helps to ease digestion, mobilises nutrients and flushes out toxins
- Eat foods in natural, whole state
- Reduce sugar and stimulants
- Increase fibre in the diet
- Protein with every meal
- Eat mindfully… and ideally not at your desk – take a break, even 15 mins can increase productivity!
Nicola’s top tip for us was that every meal should be like eating the rainbow, in that it contains a mix of leafy greens (veg and salad), protein, healthy fats, grains and starchy vegetables. Essentially, you want your plate to be as colourful as possible! For those of you looking for a quick fix, here are the top 10 mental-strength boosting foods:
- Green leafy veg
- Nuts and seeds
- Organic chicken/turkey
- Dark chocolate
- Oily fish
We now know that food and nutrition play a huge part in our mental health. However, if our lifestyle remains unchanged, we are unlikely to see any real improvement. The below lifestyle tips are easy to incorporate into our everyday routines and are an easy win for boosting our mental health:
- Get moving – offer to do the tea run or try a Jabber free hour a day
- Get some zzz
- Create ‘me-time’
- Practise meditation – this might not be for everyone but definitely worth a try especially if you struggle to sleep