The most important health for a teenager is brain health. Brain development is extremely important in shaping the fruitful life of a teenager. Healthy food is vital in this development.
Feeding the teenage animal is a daunting task, at best. One night they like one thing and the very next night, they wouldn’t touch it to save their lives. Unfortunately, we can’t change teenage behavior, but we can guide them down the road to healthy and happy lives.
Did you ever stop to consider your diet?
What we eat every day has a direct effect on our minds and bodies. Some foods can actually influence our feelings and emotions. Over the years, there have been countless hours of research on this subject. It is common knowledge that teens eat incredible amounts of fast food and snack foods. As the case may be, teenagers are also melodramatic, hormonal, and above all, sickly all of the time. Sure, we could blame it all on the hormonal issue. But in reality, the foods they digest are actually influencing their “hormones” as well.
It is now suggested that teenage mental health providers incorporate healthy Nutritional Guidelines into a troubled teen’s life plan. These Nutritional Guidelines should not only be used for teens with eating disorders but other mental illnesses as well. Other mental disorders such as, depression, anxiety, autism and ADHD, to name a few. An example of a food product that is known to have a profound effect is sugar. This is a huge problem in the lives of hyperactive children and teenagers.
Nutrients that help nurture good mental health development
Food and nutrients play a large part in the mental health development of adolescents and young adults.
Here are 7 of the key nutrients that may completely influence brain health, as well as the foods they appear in:
- B vitamins and Folate
- Amino Acids
- Vitamin D
- Plant-based Antioxidants
Food that really helps in mental health development
A list of some of the most nutrient-dense, easily obtainable foods for the best mental health:
- Chia Seeds (rich in Omega-3)
- Salmon (great source of Protein, Potassium and Vitamin D)
A nutrient-rich diet is as significant to mental health as it is to physical health. Felice Jacka, who is the president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research says, “A healthy diet is protective, and an unhealthy diet is a risk factor for depression and anxiety.”
The Good Guys in the Food Pyramid
The key nutrients and foods that every teenager should ingest on a regular basis for great mental health are as follows:
- Salmon, walnuts, and chia have what is called Omega-3 Fatty Acids. These nutrients are very important for a teen’s mental health.
- Vitamin D, which is found in eggs.
- Vitamin B, which is commonly found in spinach, mushrooms, and pineapple, are a staple in a child’s brain development.
- Folic Acid is extremely important in brain development. This nutrient is found in whole wheat bread, green veggies, and a variety of nuts.
- Magnesium, found in such foods as seaweed, beans, and leafy greens, is needed for not only the development of healthy blood vessels in the brain but for a teen’s eyes as well.
- Tryptophan is a nutrient that is imperative for the well-being of teenagers. It is an effective way to help prevent, and in some cases, treat, depression, and sleep disorders in adolescents. Some of the foods that are excellent sources of tryptophan are; turkey, eggs, and beets.
It is not just the types of foods that we feed our youngsters that have an impact. The way we prepare these foods and the environment that these foods are grown in is also very important to consider. Soil, air quality, and clean water are very important factors to consider when growing fresh, healthy food. Antibiotics and other fillers have given to animals have a direct effect on the people that ingest these animals. It is important to consider this in purchasing your food. Always try to look for “NON-GMO” foods! Studies have shown that these unhealthy types of foods can ‘upset’ healthy brain growth.
Gardening and a Healthy Brain
Fresh fruits and veggies are key to a healthy diet. Diets that are rich in these foods are more likely to be able to support healthy brain development. When growing your own fruits and vegetables, consider the area in which you live. Research the region and make adjustments, as needed. Make sure the soil is free of toxic particulates and well turned. Buy only completely organic seeds from the store.
It’s not only healthier to grow your own food physically, but mentally as well. The act of growing one’s own food can be a very fulfilling task. Growing your food gives a person a sense of accomplishment. For a teenager involved in gardening, the adolescent gets a feeling of self-fulfillment and pride. This is key to developing good mental health. This simple act of gardening helps an adolescent feel like they are actually helping themselves and others by growing healthy food for everyone.
Growing your own food has been known to lower anxiety, depression, blood pressure, and often reduces stress and mental instability. Some of this is neurobiological, but could also be a mind over matter thing.
Studies have shown that there is a direct link between soil bacteria and stress resilience. Soil bacterium promotes the health of the microbiome, which actually promotes brain health and development. Our digestive system has a direct effect on positive brain health. 95% of our serotonin level is in our gut. Therefore, it only makes sense that a healthy digestive tract is very important for a balanced brain. This also regulates our moods. Have you ever eaten something and felt guilty afterward? Or even ingested a whole bunch of junk food and felt heavy or weighted down? This is due to the fact that the overindulgence of sugars and carbs is actually quite harmful to your digestive tract.
There are other great reasons to garden. Not the least of which is the promotion of exercise. Exercise is very important to the human body. Gardening also gives an adolescent a chance to commune with nature. The time that is spent outside has been known to lift one’s spirits and to teach one that there is something out there much bigger than themselves. Teaching the individual that they are a part of nature and they are contributing to the ecosystem. Gardening outside for teenagers is very important since they spend a great deal of their time inside. It aids in the absorption of Vitamin D from the sun.
Teach ‘em in the Kitchen
Start cooking classes early. We all know that teens long to spend time with their parents in a “non-awkward” kind of way. So, why not include them in the process of preparing fresh food. From the garden to the table, teens would literally learn self-worth by the acts of planting, growing, packing, and preparing their very own food. This process plays a vital role in the teen’s development cycle of the brain. Teaching an adolescent to cook might seem like a chore, but it is very rewarding for both you and your child. Cooking is a creative craft. It helps develop a teenager’s patience, pride, and the creative side of their brains. It also promotes healthy interpersonal relationships within their social circles.
A recent study has shown that adolescents that engage in this activity are experiencing more positive emotions and flourishing! It also shows an increase in overall activity. There are a great many inherent positive outcomes in the art of cooking. When this is coupled with the time spent with family and friends, there is a total sense of pride and self-worth that becomes present in children. It is a wonderful mood lifter. The teens get a type of euphoric high when helping in the cooking process. This is a very positive aspect.
The Honest Benefit of Mindful Eating
One of the greatest benefits to eating right is the fact that the teenager can actually learn how to slow down and savor what they have produced. In this way, the teen learns that enjoying what they made, has a direct impact on their emotions and mental health. It teaches them to be aware of everything and everyone around them. It teaches them gratitude and mindfulness.
What everyone eats, has a direct impression on their moods and behaviors. If we teach the brain that eating well helps with our moods, then, in turn, our brain also teaches the rest of our body to crave these good foods. Eating well every day is the key to feeling great, creating positive moods, and strengthening our mind, body, and soul!