Today, many of us are reminded of the struggles that vets face when they return home. Whether you’ve seen the effects of war on a soldier’s mind firsthand or just read about it in articles, the mental health of returning soldiers is a concern. According to Justice For Vets, “1 in 5 veterans has symptoms of a mental health issue” (Boston Globe). What if certain foods could help heal these mental wounds?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the most common affliction amongst veterans. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs offers general nutrition advice related to lifestyle on their website, but nothing directly related to combating PTSD with nutrition. Here are a few simple notes on how nutrition can keep the mind healthy:
A morning smoothie of blueberries and yogurt can start the day off right. Blueberries contain a large amount of antioxidants which protect our brain cells from deteriorating. They also help reduce symptoms linked to PTSD, such as depression and anxiety. Probiotics, which can be found in yogurt, support a healthy supply of the brain neurotransmitter GABA, one of the neurochemicals that keeps anxiety at bay.
A salad of whole grains, leafy greens, and lean protein for lunch can keep you going throughout the day. Whole grains, like brown rice and quinoa, contain selenium which researchers have found helps reduce symptoms of depression. The folic acid found in spinach and romaine lettuce keeps our cognitive ability in check. Lean proteins, such as turkey, produce the neurotransmitter serotonin which keeps our minds happy. This is why turkey is sometimes referred to as “Nature’s Prozac.”
Nutrition can be therapeutic, both physically and mentally. When soldiers return home, we can support them simply through nutritious meals. Help can just be a bite away.