Christmas cravings could have consequences

The festive season is often a time to indulge in all sorts of foods and drinks without any guilt, while some may save the entire year to have a joyous Christmas and new year.

But while having your Christmas cake, braaied meat and cold beers, it is essential to remember that such foods have an effect on the brain, which could contribute to mental disorders such as depression.

A reminder to be positive at the Fisha Wellness Hospital where people can voluntarily be taken in if they need psychological help. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Brain signals drive what, how, and when we eat, while having a mental disorder means that the functions of the brain can sometimes be altered.

For example, chronic stress can increase the body’s release of cortisol, a hormone which also increases appetite and causes one to crave high-fat, sugary foods.

“Like high blood pressure or diabetes, mental health is intertwined with the brain. The brain function is intertwined with nutrition to succeed,” said Dr Senathi Fisha of Fisha Wellness Hospital, a voluntary psychiatric centre. If one suffers from depression, the following foods are good to eat, Fisha said.


Fisha recommends a standard fast-food burger, as it contains all the nutrients needed to assist the brain.

“Carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, pap and bread have the right sugars in the form of glucose to enhance energy. A burger has protein, carbohydrates and vegetables, which have minerals and vitamins. Taken in moderation, it takes care of the brain function.”


The function of protein is to build anything that is broken in the body, Fisha said. “After a day of drinking alcohol, brain function is affected.

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“Protein helps with repairing and creating a balance. Foods rich in dairy products have the protein we need. This includes eggs and poultry. Protein can maintain constant repair of damages caused by alcohol and drugs.”

Essential oils

Fatty acids, including Omega 3, replace chemicals in the brain and boost happiness.

“If you don’t have fatty acids, you deplete the insufficient chemicals in the brain function, which could lead to depression. Omega 3 is mostly found in fish and nuts. But it is important not to overdo, and have them in moderation.” Vitamin B complex is found in beetroot and pumpkin. “Pumpkin seeds are important in dealing with mental illness. Vitamin D is also critical. Apart from promoting the building of bones, it helps build the brain itself,” says Fisha.


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