Have you heard of “grey matter”, a crucial player in our bodies central nervous system? Or that rarely do individuals get enough sunshine for adequate vitamin D levels? Do you know the common factor in both of those questions? Fish! Our mental wellness can be impacted by our daily activity and choices. The great idea about fish, such as salmon, is that eating fish is not only healthy for our physical wellness but also our mental wellness. Health benefits of delicious fish goes beyond our immediate consumption and begins with our journey of cooking it.
# 1. Fish Consumption & Grey Matter
Controlling functions such as movements, memory, and emotions, grey matter has a significant role in both our brain and our spinal cord (1. Each function controlled by grey matter can also be negatively impacted by major grey matter loss from disease. Fish are a surprisingly easy way to help protect grey matter loss! Fish consumption has been found to reduce the risk of abnormalities in the brain by increasing grey matter (2.
#2. Depression & Omega-3
Individuals who endure mental illnesses, (e.g. depression and bipolar disorder), are well aware of the widely varying, complex mood disorder’s symptoms. Beyond a moment of “unhappiness”, these mood disorders are a daily struggle of self care, eating healthy, and medications (3. There has been an increase in scientific studies that identify a relation between fish consumption and improvement in mental health (4,5,6. The majority of these studies do agree that the hypothesis, omega-3 intake on “preventing” or “treating” depressive symptoms, needs to be explored further to have consistent results. The concluding findings are hopeful and certainly invite new research.
Beyond the science behind the benefits of omega-3, having a consistent intake of salmon is a healthy habit that will have your body thanking you.
#3. Quality of Sleep
Especially as we grow older, we begin to wish our younger-selves would have taken those extra naps when offered. Sleep is one of the most challenging and most crucial to our health. Catching those much needed Zzz’s has proven more difficult as we age. A 2016 study confirmed the association between better sleep quality and fish intake.
“...an increase in [oily] fish intake is associated with further improvements in the quality of sleep.”
Oily fish, aka salmon, have higher levels of Omega-3. Additional studies have shown the benefits of omega-3 intake have shown increased quality of sleep, without taking into account where the omega-3 intake comes from. Wild caught salmon is one of the highest natural producers of rich, healthy omega-3.
#4. Sun, Salmon, and Vitamin D
Naturally occurring in only a select handful of foods, vitamin D, is heavily associated with ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. For those individuals who live in geographical areas of long winter months, cloudy, and/or rainy days often lack the ability to get their vitamin D from the sun.
Your next best choice? Fish!
International units (IU) are used when measuring the potency of substances such as vitamins. Containing 450 IU per teaspoon, cod liver oil amounts for 75% of an individual’s recommended daily allowance. Herring contains 306 IU per fillet, and swordfish contains 706 IU per piece. The best part of these oily fish species is that the potency of vitamin D is naturally occurring, and not synthetically created.
#5. Your Kitchen, Your Masterpiece
Number 5 on the list takes your mental wellness to the top. Those of us who have suffered from any mental ailments, e.g. depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar, have been faced with days where you do not even leave the bedroom. Having a healthy routine takes work, as does having healthy coping mechanisms. As we talk about mental health and wellness, some of our darkest days depend on our internal coping mechanisms.
Cooking and baking could be a healthy tool!
Not only do you have artistic freedom in your kitchen, but you also have the benefits of self care. Trying new and fun recipes, Tuna Poke Bowl, will help establish a routine, and you can have fun doing it.
If you or a loved one are experiencing any depressive and anxiety-like symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider to discuss your options and treatment. This article does not give or offer any medical advice.