Baking and Mental Health

Can Food Actually Help Heal Your Brain?

There are specific foods that are better for your mental health than others. This article lists just a few, but they are the main ones and very important. A lot of foods contain antioxidants and omega-three fats, which are known to alter brain chemistry. The altered brain chemistry leads to an increase in serotonin levels in the brain. Dark chocolate contains flavanols which improve overall mood and cognition. A great idea for something to bake using dark chocolate could be dark chocolate chocolate chip cookies or dark chocolate fudge brownies!! All types of nuts are amazing for mental health. They contain Omega three fats which are directly linked to the production of serotonin. Omega-three fats serve as a neuroprotectant. Mhanational. Org talks about nuts effects on the brain, “ nuts prevent or moderate both depression or bipolar disorder and may be effective in stabilizing mood and enhancing the effectiveness of conventional antidepressants.”

Some baked goods to make with nuts are Banana Nut Muffins, Walnut Cake, or Brown Sugar Walnut Bars. Bananas are one of the best foods for your mental and physical health. Bananas affect tryptophan production which is an amino acid that increases serotonin production, that is also why they are so good for stomach cramps. Banana bread, banana muffins, and banana cream pies are a great way to get that serotonin pumping. Oats contain fibers that are linked to regulating blood sugar, controlling mood swings, and irritability. Blood sugar fluctuation can be very dangerous and cause mood swings, a way to keep this under control is to make some oatmeal cookies. These are not replaceable by therapy and medication, but baking is amazing for improving mental health, these recipes are just suggestions for helping you out!

Pam Nalbach, the chef at the Broad Street Grind, explains how when she needs some mental healing, she enjoys baking vanilla cupcakes filled with fruits. “Dark chocolate-covered nuts”, she says, “freaking delicious!”. This is a great way to get Omega threes and flavonols; lowering blood pressure and improving cognition and mood. When baking with nuts and dark chocolate, Nalbach says, “Brownies, the end.” The rewards of baking don’t simply come from the products of baking alone, but also from the process itself. Baking allows you to put your brain in the present moment. Associate yourself with what is going on right in front of you instead of dissociating. Triggering your sense of smell and touch is a great way to bring yourself ‘back down to earth’ in stressful times. When feeling out of control, baking offers just that! Measuring, mixing, rolling, and whisking give a sense of control and a routine to follow. Baking also helps to keep us focused and engaged in the present moment. Let’s be honest, life right now is so stressful. Graduation, political conflict, family conflict, we could all list some things that we want to get away from for at least 30 minutes. While I am a huge believer in ‘feel the feelings, sometimes our brain needs a break. Let the process relax you and offer rewards greater than the baked good itself.