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Brain foods and movement for a happy mind

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Exercise is essential for a healthy mind and body, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Pairing a brain healthy diet with daily movement will create a longer, happier and more comfortable life.

The foods we eat can determine not just our day-to-day mood, but our overall mental health.

Foods that are high in trans fats and saturated fats are harmful to the brain, but not all fats are bad. Our bodies, on their own, are unable to produce the fatty acids we need.

According to Psychology Today, “foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as wild cold water fish (e.g., salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel), seaweed, chicken fed on flaxseed and walnuts, have been shown to reduce symptoms of schizophrenia, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other mental disorders.”

In addition, Omega-3s make us happier by supporting the production of dopamine and serotonin, while also improving learning and memory.

Another essential happy-builder, protein is what grows, repairs and maintains the muscle tissue in our bodies. Fish, poultry, eggs, beans and nonfat dairy are great sources. It is also another producer of serotonin, improving cognitive functioning while reducing depression and anxiety symptoms.

In terms of movement, starting with a simple walk is a great way to introduce a daily movement routine into your day. The simple act of walking boots serotonin levels, even more so in the sunshine. In the warmer months, swimming can be a fun activity that works many different muscles in your body without stressing your joints. Many gyms offer a Silver Sneakers program that includes group exercise programs of all levels, both on land and in the water. Locally, the Woodloch Sports Complex in Hawley, PA offers such a program. Call 570/685-8143 for more information.

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