19 Best Foods for Physical and Mental Wellbeing

Parul Dube

May 12, 2022

The food we consume or the diet we choose for our body always affects our physical, mental and social well-being. Food is the most effective way to bring alignment to your bodily functions. One may have specific choices and can have different preferences. But the fundamental is a diet full of nutritious whole foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and fish. One should also plan a diet taking their age, lifestyle, activity levels and calorie requirement into account. Also, if one is suffering from a particular ailment, one needs to keep it in mind before adding and eliminating food items. 

Always make it a point to talk to your dietician before making any significant changes in your eating habits. The nutrients present in our body are present for performing their respective functions, which is crucial for the smooth conduct of the cells. 

It is the nutrients that give the body instructions, and it is the food which is the source of “information” for the body. Classification of food can happen as “Good” foods and “Junk” foods, and the focus should always be on what foods can be included and not what type of foods one could avoid. One should never see food as an enemy but look at it as a way to create health & reduce the risk of disease by helping the body function optimally. 

So let us look at 19 superfoods which will transform your life into a more productive, longer and healthier one. 

The Science Behind Mood and Food

If one tries to understand the connection between diet and emotions, it comes from a close relationship between your “brain” and your “second brain”, which is known as the Gastrointestinal Tract. When you resolve to eat healthily, this promotes the growth of “good” bacteria, which positively impacts the production of neurotransmitters. On the other hand, if you maintain a steady diet of eating only junk, it causes inflammation. 

When the production of neurotransmitters is in good shape, the brain will receive these images loud and clear in a positive manner – and it will be reflected undoubtedly in your emotions. But an awry production will indeed affect your mood. 

Mental Health Benefits

Studies have revealed that a healthy diet will always be advantageous for your psyche. If you take care to eat when you are hungry and stop after you are satisfied, it can help keep your blood sugar and energy levels in check. This controlled food consumption promotes positive thinking and sets you in a good mood. Try to have protein-rich foods that will keep your blood sugar regulated, such as lean meats, quinoa, and low-fat yoghurt. 

You can also go for fibre-rich foods such as oatmeal, lentils, and raspberries. Nowadays, research also talks about such a diet focused on enhancing gut bacteria levels leading to positive developments in the brain, as per a psychiatry report of 2015. To be a potential gainer of these perks, you must add gut-friendly foods and drinks like dahi, idli, dosa, dhokla, fermented foods, kefir, miso soup, berries, and cruciferous vegetables. 

Physical Health Benefits

It is very well-known that good food helps maintain a good mood. Therefore, it is no surprise that it will positively impact your body. One can take inspiration from a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts and berries. Another type was olive oil and a calorie-restricted diet with low fats. The health benefits usually gained from Mediterranean diets were

  • Enhanced Blood Pressure Levels
  • Insulin Sensitivity
  • Inflammation
  • Markers of Other Heart Diseases

If you increase the intake of fruits and vegetables in your body, you will be protected from lifestyle diseases while keeping your immune system working. When the overall calories you eat per day are balanced, and you snack at regular intervals, your energy levels are intact. Healthy foods are good enough to enhance your sleep, and it also keeps your weight under perfect control. 

Ability to Live to the Fullest

If you eat and sleep in a balanced manner, i.e., feel good emotionally and physically, you are more likely to enjoy social activities. As per studies, it links good nutrition and social development in children. Those who eat healthily are more friendly than other kids who do not mingle a lot socially. 

If you are a victim of social anxiety, you should limit your caffeine levels, which can fuel your anxiety symptoms all the more. Instead, try sticking to an eating pattern wherein the diet is rich in nutrients, which helps the body remain hydrated with beverages like herbal tea, low-fat milk and drinking water. 

14 Foods to Enhance Physical and Mental Wellness

Oily Fish

Why is fish referred to as “brain food”? It is due to a minute fatty acid called DHA – an Omega-3 fatty acid that helps enhance short-term and long-term memory and thus contributes to optimal brain health. Additionally, when we talk about a diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, it can help boost feelings of mental health and help diminish anxiety levels. If you are keen on seafood, you will find DHA in salmon, trout, and prawns.


If you want your antioxidant level to be intact and are looking for the perfect snack, it comprises four magical berries – raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries. Why are we going for antioxidants? They help repair cells and help in combating inflammation caused by free radical damage. Pollutants and cigarette smoke are the primary sources of these free radicals. Antioxidants help in reducing the damages caused by them. Symptoms related to anxiety and depression also start improving. 

Did you know that berries comprise a compound called polyphenolics that works wonders for memory while increasing your attention span & concentration?


If you have ever experienced the benefits of yoghurt on an upset stomach, you would know how amazing it is. It comes with the added use of probiotics which help your digestive system is running smoothly. At the same time, recent research has stated that due to the strong connection between the brain and the gut, when probiotics are present in yoghurt cultures, it can also influence a person’s physical and mental well-being by decreasing the levels of stress, depression and anxiety. 


Carbohydrates are the fun part of the meal for physical and mental well-being, and they should not take a backseat in your daily meals. As per studies, whole grains are a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps produce serotonin, also known as the “good” hormone. Serotonin definitely helps keep the mind calm, improves mood and also assists in maintaining a steady sleep cycle. 

Unprocessed Foods

As per some studies, you may suffer from hyperactivity or depression due to certain preservatives, food colourings or other additives. So, always remember to consume minimally processed food or has significantly less healthy ingredients. Think of fresh fruits and vegetables as your “go-to” – precisely what holistic nutritional counsellors advise, who always prefer natural and wholesome foods for the win. 


It would benefit if you always went for snacks that help maintain your brain health for a long time. And the best and most feasible option is walnuts. They are always brimming with antioxidants which do not allow oxidation into the brain and body. You can also expect the growth of new neurons, which aids in developing new brain cells, which is essential for maintaining sound mental health. 

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens receive many praises because they are excellent for mental health. As per neurology, people who consume leafy greens like spinach, kale and collard greens daily have better cognitive functions than those who avoid having greens on their plates. 


When it comes to the top food choices in terms of a healthy and happy brain, beans should be the first one to strike your mind! 

Did you know that it is called the musical fruit? Chickpeas, lentils, and kidney beans are always full of plenty of fibre and antioxidants, making them all the more desirable for keeping the blood sugar level in check and keeping us fuller for longer. In addition, antioxidants are a mandate for good mental health. Also, keep in mind that beans comprise thiamine, a vitamin required for acetylcholine production, a neurotransmitter for memory. 


Avocados are a source of unsaturated fats, which help support the brain cells. If you keep consuming monounsaturated fats, it will aid in reducing blood pressure as high blood pressure has a deep connection with cognitive decline. When the blood pressure finally goes down, avocados contain these unsaturated fats, diminishing the risk of cognitive decline.  


When it comes to this, the green veggie is full of bone-healthy vitamins like C, A, and K that help fight the growth of tumours and reduce the risk factor of cancer. In addition, according to studies, if selenium levels are low, they cause fatigue, anxiety and depression. Thus, broccoli is one of the best foods to combat depression. 

Dark Chocolates

Who does not love chocolates? But you should have it in moderation, i.e. only one ounce a day, as dark chocolate contains loads of antioxidants and natural stimulants that enhance your focus and concentration and improve your mood. It also comprises plenty of flavonols that have an anti-inflammatory effect and serve as an excellent antioxidant. Inflammation helps fight against major mental health issues such as bipolar disorder, depression, OCD, schizophrenia, personality disorders and Alzheimer’s. 


Egg yolk consists of antioxidants to keep the eyes healthy, diminish the risk of macular degeneration, and protect your skin from UV damage. They also contain memory-enhancing choline for excellent brain development. 

Nuts and Seeds

You must have surely heard the saying, “Eat nuts and live longer”. So, do not forget to consume a handful of nuts daily. Walnuts consist of omega-3 fatty acids to promote heart health, reduce bad cholesterol, and enhance good cholesterol. It can also help to improve your mood. Also, flaxseed is another miracle plant food which has quite powerful effects. Seeds can reduce cancer risk and the impact of heart disease, strokes, and diabetes. 


Oranges have proudly made it to this list because they contain vitamin C, which is essential for producing white blood cells or WBC and antibodies that are impactful infection fighters. 


It is undoubtedly one of the best grains to consume. Quinoa has plenty of proteins, iron, and fibre to control weight, reduce heart disease risks, and prevent diabetes. 

Spinach and Kale

Healthy new cells can be formed via spinach and are a powerful source of minerals, vitamins and fibre. In addition, studies have shown that kale helps reduce the risk of ovarian, breast, and other types of cancers. 

Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes help strengthen the immune system and maintain eye and bone health as they are a rich source of vitamin A. 


Tea has a high-quality antioxidant named flavonoid, which is highly instrumental in preventing many diseases. It helps prevent Alzheimer’s, cancer, and diabetes and promotes healthier bones, gums & teeth. It also enhances memory and focuses while enabling a good mood. Make sure to consume freshly brewed tea for maximum benefits.  


Tomatoes consist of lycopene which is rare in other foods. Thus, they also help shield the skin from UV rays, decrease cholesterol levels, and prevent some types of cancer. 


It is essential to be mindful of the healthy foods included in our diet. Also, you should be adequate, especially when dealing with your cravings. It would help if you tried to make your plate colourful, including different tastes, textures, and a mix of raw and cooked food. Some people mostly prefer a plant-based diet as it sustains their energy and concentration powers for the entire day. Depending on the implementation of changes in your diet, it may take days or weeks before you see fruitful results. But one cannot deny that healthy exercise and meditation coupled with healthy eating – is a deadly combination for overcoming depression. It would help if you also made a mental note of how each food item makes you feel in the long run and directly after you have consumed it.

Start initially by making small healthy food swaps – let’s assume we switch white rice, pasta and bread for whole grains. A switch will increase the presence of good fibre in your body and help indigestion. Instead of going for a bag of chips, you can always pick a salad full of nuts, seeds, and colourful vegetables with extra colouring and varied flavours. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How can you gain muscle fast?

A. You can gain muscle fast by enhancing your training, focusing on the gradual growth phase and consuming more proteins. Also, please remember that one should avoid muscle gain supplements to get a shortcut to success. The ideal way is to 

Q. Which gives instant energy?

A. Bananas are said to give instant energy and can be your go-to snack for sustained energy. They are a natural source of sugar while also being rich in fibres. Helpful nutrients are also present in them that give the body energy. 

Q. What fruit is good for sleep?

A. Cherry juice can put you to sound sleep as it comprises high melatonin levels. It is a hormone in the brain for regulating sleep. Therefore, it is beneficial for those who have insomnia.

Q. How can I clear my mind of unwanted thoughts?

A. You can clear your mind of unwanted thoughts by being mindful of what you do, pursuing a new hobby, starting writing, listening to music or going for a long, relaxing walk. 

Q. Which colour is good for mental health?

A. It comprises green and blue colours, where green is for harmony and diffuses anxiety. Blue is a highly soft colour that is perfect for stress management and instils a sense of calm.  

Q. How can I improve my mental health without medication?

A. Meditation can boost your mental health and overall well-being. It helps lower stress levels and makes people more aware of their thoughts and reactions. 

Q. What vitamins help with mental health?

A. Production of serotonin and dopamine occurs when vitamin B12 and folate supplements are combined. They help in regulating and maintaining good mental health. 

Q. Does eating healthier make you happier?

A. When you consume a healthy diet consisting of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and quality sources of proteins – your mood is automatically boosted, and you will feel happy. 

Q. What food is a natural antidepressant?

A. Foods that can be rated as the highest antidepressants consist of oysters and mussels, lean organ meats, leafy greens, lettuces, peppers, and other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and kale and Brussel sprouts. 

Q. What food can I eat before bed?

A. You can consume foods like berries, kiwis, goji berries, pistachios, oatmeal or plain yoghurt before bed. They are easy as well as tasty late-night snacks.

About the Author

Parul holds a Masters of Medical Science in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and has worked across the globe from the U.K to New Zealand (NZ) gaining her License with the Health Professionals Council (HPC, UK) and the NZ Nutrition Council. From being a Gold medalist in Clinical Nutrition to being awarded an internship with World Health Organisation (WHO, Cairo, Egypt) and Contracts with CDC Parul has had a wide spectrum of work experiences. She is very passionate about Nutrition and Fitness and holds strong to her guiding mantras ‘ Move more’ and ‘Eat Food that your grandmother can recognize’!

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