Both a healthy mind and healthy body start on a cellular level. It is important to find foods and vitamins that can enhance and protect the body’s millions of cells from damage by free radicals. Free radicals are molecules also created by the body. When left unchecked, free radicals roam the body at will and can unleash massive damage to our cellular structures. This increases our risk for disease, advanced aging and mental health. Researchers have found that the brain is particularly at risk from the damage of free radicals, which is also an attack on mental health.
In order for the body to keep free radicals in check, it is important to search for foods that are rich with antioxidants. Free radicals take form when the body lacks antioxidants. Simply put, free radicals are created when atoms or molecules split and are left with an odd, unpaired electron. This problem stems from the damage caused by oxidation in the body. Antioxidants are exactly as advertised; they fight oxidation in the body. Antioxidants stop free radicals by sharing electrons, an action which neutralizes this problem from happening and protects the body from cellular damage. We know vitamins A, C and E as well as dark green veggies, red berries, nuts and seeds are great places to start when looking for antioxidant rich foods. More specifically, look for these items when shopping: broccoli, blueberries, strawberries, sweet potatoes, peppers, collards, cantaloupe, grapefruit, kiwi, pumpkin and tomatoes. Antioxidants are undoubtedly a foundational part of nutrition, which help protect the body’s brain integrity and mental health. If we can integrate a diet rich with antioxidants and reduce free radicals in the body, then there must be other foods and nutrients that produce different effects and feelings in the brain and the body. Most of us are familiar with the way some of these foods and nutrients act on the brain and our mood, as well as the way they make us feel physically. There are also elements in our diet that we subconsciously crave based on our emotional health and how we are feeling as we go through life. Let’s take a closer look at the effects foods and nutrients have on the body both physically and mentally.