According to the Brief Resilience Scale, or the BRS, mental resilience is the mental ability to bounce back from stress. And if we’re honest, it has been a challenging few years around the world, and the American Psychology Association reports that 84% of adults are feeling emotions associated with prolonged stress. (1) As a result, this can impact our health across the board, from energy levels to cognitive function to sleep and recovery.
Nutrition and Mental Resilience
From a nutrition perspective, there are a few ways to leverage the brain-gut connection and strengthen your mental health resilience.
Our overall mental well-being is impacted by a few factors including biological symptoms, your emotions, thoughts or cognitions, and behaviors. As well, the state of your mental health is informed by your physical health and quality of diet. (2)
The foods that you consume go on to become fuel for healthy cells as well as building blocks for hormones, important metabolites, and neurotransmitters that are used to regulate your mood and ability to handle stress. Therefore, we can use nutrition to influence your biology, which plays a major role in your overall mental well-being.
Here are 3 nutrients that you can use to improve your mental resilience and stress response.
Omega 3 Fats
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, such as tuna and salmon, as well as plant sources, like hemp, flax, and chia, are crucial to healthy brain function. It helps to regulate the stress hormone cortisol, which in normal and balanced amounts keeps us awake and alert during the day, but in excess, it can add additional inflammation and workload to the body. (3)
A few ways to add a dose of Omega-3 fats to your diet include:
-sprinkle 1 teaspoon ground flax, hemp hearts, and chia seeds on oatmeal or smoothies
-order salmon or tuna sashimi at your favorite sushi restaurant
-make a tasty poke bowl at home with raw tuna and salmon
-add on 1 teaspoon hemp hearts and chia seeds to your avocado taste for texture and extra fats
This class of fatty acids is especially vital for babies and children as they help with the development of the nervous system and brain. (4)
Probiotics + Prebiotics + Postbiotics
Your gut flora makes hormones and neurotransmitters that directly impact how you feel, which is why when stress begins to affect your ability to produce chemicals associated with happiness, pleasure, and satisfaction, supporting your gut health becomes a priority.
The bifidobacterium strain is found in many fermented foods, such as kombucha, sauerkraut, and R’s KOSO. It can strengthen your resilience against stress by supplying your body with live bacteria (probiotics), fibers, and resistant starches that feed the gut flora (prebiotics), and nutrients produced by probiotic bacteria (postbiotics).
A great time to introduce a serving of gut healthy fermented foods is first thing in the morning before breakfast. Here are some ways to incorporate it:
-1 teaspoon R’s KOSO in water
-1/4 natto beans with rice
-1/4 cup kimchi or sauerkraut with your eggs or in your breakfast burrito or tacos
This essential mineral is something we need in increased amounts when our stress levels rise. Your body depletes through magnesium sources faster when there is more stress. It’s needed to aid in muscle relaxation and reaching deep, restorative sleep.
When your magnesium intake matches the demand of your body, then you can properly recover from the stressful events your body is experiencing. This gives you the ability to bounce back more effectively and efficiently, which is how the BRS defines resilience.
You can find magnesium in leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and legumes - many of which are used in the fermentation of R’s KOSO.
Aside from drinking R’s KOSO, here are other ways to add magnesium in your diet:
-add 1 tablespoon of nut butter to toast or oatmeal
-make a nut-based granola at home
-toss a handful of spinach into your smoothie