Healthy Anne Arundel Day is April 7th, the same day as the 75th World Health Day. Organizations throughout the county are showing their support of healthy lifestyles by holding health-promoting events and encouraging healthy activities such as walking, spending time in nature, and eating healthy foods.

The importance of a healthy diet cannot be overstated. What goes into our bodies largely determines what we can do (physically), and how we feel (physically, mentally, and emotionally). The nutrients we get from food provide not only the energy needed to be physically active, but also nourishment for the brain to think clearly and make good decisions. What we eat also has an effect on our mental health.

Research is showing that diets that limit the consumption of highly processed foods, instead focusing on fresh, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, and healthy fats, are linked to improvements in mental health. Some examples of this kind of diet include the Mediterranean diet, MIND diet, and DASH diet. The ketogenic diet (often just called “keto”) also has a profound effect on the brain, and is used reduce the occurrence of seizures in those who suffer from epilepsy.

In another interesting way that food impacts the brain, a recent study at the National Institute of Health looked at the effect of probiotics on mental health conditions. The researchers found that consuming probiotics reduced the symptoms of anxiety and depression by lowering the amount of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body.

Here are some healthy foods to remember as you fuel your body and your mind:

Antioxidants: look for colorful berries, leafy greens, black chia seeds. Proteins high in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon.

Fiber: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans

Probiotics: yogurt, fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha. Look out for the sodium in fermented foods, though.