Feeling good most definitely starts on the inside, so making an effort to include more ‘good mood foods’ can hugely impact your personal ‘feel good’ factor.
Studies have shown that those with rich diets, heavy on refined, fried and sugary foods, are more at risk from depression, so here are some small, easy steps you can take to give your body a fighting chance to feel good:
Eat enough protein: Without getting too sciencey on you, our mood is regulated by the neurotransmitters GABA, Seratonin, Dophamin, which are produced to either calm or excite; they keep us on an even keel. Individual proteins play a critical role in neurotransmitter production, so ensuring you are getting enough good quality protein such as eggs, pulses, lean organic/grass fed meat at each meal is key.
Reduce stimulants: Whilst a caffeine or sugar rush can give a short term hit, that extra coffee or half a packet of biscuits will leave you feeling low in the long run. Both over stimulate cortisol production, which is useful in small amounts for a boost of energy, but can leave your adrenal glands exhausted. Think matcha or green tea or nut butters on oatcakes, to give you a long-lasting steady boost.
Magic magnesium: Magnesium is probably one of my favourite minerals, as it is a miracle worker. The brain uses magnesium to support concentration and memory, the muscles use it to relax and it also has an anti-anxiety affect. Make sure that you are eating plenty of magnesium-rich foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, mackerel, beans, lentils and avocados.
Watch out for vitamin deficiencies: Vitamins B1 B2, B3, B6, B12 as well as C, biotin and folic acid have all been found to enhance mental health by lowering anxiety and boosting mood. Eating a well-balanced diet rich in wholegrains, good quality protein, nuts and seeds and of course a wide variety of fruit and veg should ensure you are getting all you need each day. Watch out for my upcoming simple meal plan ‘how to’.
Good news for chocolate lovers: I’m afraid I am not talking Dairy Milk, but you’ve probably heard of cacao, the less processed sibling of cocoa. Being more unrefined, it contains lots of beneficial nutrients like iron and antioxidants. Cacao can improve mood - the flavanols convert to tryptophan and then to serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter.
Omega-3s are essential for health: Omega-3s are also known as omega-3 essential fatty acids, essential because your body can’t make them, they can only come from your diet. They help with a multitude of things, but for brain health, omega 3s have been found to be beneficial for age-related mental decline and Alzheimer’s disease, depression (particularly EPA) and brain development in pregnancy and early life. They have also been found to be helpful in reducing the frequency of mood swings.
Herbs: while culinary herbs have lots of wonderful properties of their own, a shout out needs to go to supplements agnus castus and St. John’s wort. Mood can be linked to hormonal upheaval, therefore agnus castus, a good hormone-balancing herb, can be beneficial. St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) is well known as an important antidepressant. It helps calm anxiety and lift mood.
Looking forward to sharing more, soon.