Over the decades, the topic of mental health has been one of much contention. However, as a consistent spike in awareness over recent years continue to rise, we are hopeful that we are set on a steady path of improvement.

Much like physical health, mental health requires a continuance of support and maintenance to mitigate negative long-term effects. The key is to maintain healthy habits that promote overall wellbeing, as a poor state of mental health can lead to mental illness, requiring a lot more active engagement to manage.

So let’s keep reminding ourselves to start with the smaller everyday practices such as:

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Understanding our brain

The brain conveys its signals by means of transference of electrical signals and chemical compounds. This complex network of neurons and neurotransmitters (the chemicals) operate in synergy to perform tasks, many of which we do not even bat an eyelid for. It is these signals however that at times fire an astonishing several hundred nerve impulses per second. With so much constant activity, perhaps it’s worth paying better attention to all that our brain needs to optimally fuel its, and in turn our, everyday functions.

Supplementing the chemistry of the brain

Up until today, scientists have discovered at least 60 different kinds of chemicals in the brain. Most of us are familiar with the following 4 (dubbed the happy chemicals): Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin and Endorphins.

Below we have highlighted an additional 5 said to make up our emotive chemical circuitry; let’s take a look at the role each one plays as well ways in which we can supplement its presence:

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Increases blood flow to muscles.

Vitamin B & C: Legumes, nuts, low sugar fruits (eg. avocados & raspberries)

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Increases alertness.

Amino Acid (Tyrosinein): Almonds, bananas, avocados, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds

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The ‘reward’ chemical.

Exercise, sleep, probiotics (eg. pickled veggies, kombucha, kefir)

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Helps to connect with others.

Figs, watermelon, avocados, spinach, coffee for women, nuts for men

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Regulates muscle tone.

Citrus, fruits, tomatoes, spinach, lentils, black teas, almonds, walnuts, probiotics

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Regulates nervous system function.

Spinach, peanut better, raw cacao, beets

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Assists with nervous system communicating with muscles.

Mushrooms, kimchi, broccoli, cabbage, grape juice

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Inhibits transmission of pain in the body.

Listening to music, hot peppers, nuts, seeds, ginseng, strawberries, dark chocolate

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Linked to happiness.

Exercise and exposure to sunlight. Pineapples, oats, dark chocolate, bananas

Let’s Do Better

Mental health conditions can have a substantial effect on all areas of life, such as academic or work performance, relationships with family and friends and participation within our community at large.

As important as it is to manage our wellbeing by understanding our personal stressors and safeguarding ourselves against potential burnout, it is equally important to remain attuned to those around us. Breaking the stigma begins with creating as much dialogue as possible.

It is therefore imperative that we all do better and play our part in breaking down the pre-existing stigma as well as show more compassion and support towards those amongst us that may be currently struggling.

Let’s educate ourselves. Let’s do better.