The role our diets play in promoting good mental health is often over shadowed by the emphasis currently place on prescription (or self) medication and to a lesser extent counselling. Having a balanced diet does wonders for improving behavioural and emotional cognition.
Sasa's Kitchen provides innovative ideas to traditional African cuisine. They have a penchant for using healthy, fresh and non GMO produce. Saratu Bantu the lead chef talks through her experiences with the topic of mental health and shares an easy recipe for our readers to recreate at home.
Mental illness is something we don't discuss where I come from. It is something other people have; it is not an African illness. One isn't allowed to feel sad or down let alone display mental illness. "What do you have to be sad about when you have more than most people in the country?" You will find people asking especially the older folks. "You have God by your side, no weapons fashioned against you shall prosper, amen", they continue. "Ah! I didn't hear you say amen", they frown.
In a society where keeping things and feelings to oneself is encouraged, it is very hard for people to seek the help that they need and even harder for loved ones to recognise these symptoms and offer the help required. Things are changing though and I am very happy to be part of this change!
Food plays an important contributing role in the development, management and prevention of specific mental health problems such as depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Alzheimer’s disease. It is important we eat the right kind of food to help with brain health and development. Here is a simple recipe that combines one of nature’s super foods, chicken liver with a low-calorie okra packed with vitamins and fibre.
Chicken liver, also known as "brain healer" are high in protein and a rich store of. Livers are also loaded with iron to give you energy and a treasure trove of certain B vitamins, most notably B12. Chicken livers are also one of the top sources of vitamin A. Note: It isn't advisable for pregnant women to eat liver because too much vitamin A can harm the baby.
Okra is among the very low-calorie vegetables. They provide just 30 calories per 100g, they also contain no saturated fats or cholesterol. Nonetheless, they are rich sources of dietary fibre, minerals, and vitamins; often recommended by nutritionists in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs. It is also an excellent source of the anti-oxidant vitamin, vitamin-C, which helps the body develop immunity against infectious agents, reduce episodes of cold and cough and protect the body from harmful free radicals.
Chicken Liver and Okra Stir-Fry
250g of okra, seeds removed and cut in thin vertical slices
500g of chicken livers, cleaned and patted dry
1 tbs of olive oil
Salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a skillet. In the mean time season the livers with salt and pepper. Fry the liver until it is cooked to your liking and turn off the heat. Toss in the okra with the seeds and let the heat from the cooked livers heat up the okra. Add salt and pepper to taste.