The change in season can sometimes bring about “the blues”. But rather than pop a pill, let’s look at natural and healthy mood food that could help you feel good. We’re not talking about the better known “comfort food” of chocolate or ice-cream, but easy additions to your everyday diet that can make a huge difference in the way you feel.
HOW CAN FOOD INFLUENCE YOUR MOOD?
The macro nutrients and vitamins in the food we consume work to keep our metabolism, hormones and neurotransmitters fully functional. This in turn can help balance our mood, improve levels of concentration and influence our energy levels.
Sometimes, we try to improve our mood by consuming too much sugar, alcohol and caffeine. I’ve done it many times when I’m tired or feeling a little low. After eating that “choccie” I feel a little better for a short time and then much worse an hour or two later.
It was interesting to learn that consuming loads of sugar, booze and caffeine, can aid the onset of depression and stimulate an inflammatory response in the nervous system. Inflammation results in a compromised immune system and potential long-term onset of illness and disease.
There are many, easily obtained, healthy foods that can help you achieve your desired moods. And it’s very easy to add good mood food to your meals here and there.
CALMING AND RELAXING MOOD FOOD
Pumpkin seeds, leafy greens and almonds are rich in Magnesium which is a calming mineral that may get depleted when we’re experiencing high levels of stress. I can vouch for the effectiveness of Magnesium in helping one relax and sleep better. I accidentally stumbled across this benefit while taking a Magnesium supplement to keep cramps at bay while running.
(RELATED POST: Sleeping tips from an insomniac)
Of course, vitamins and minerals are always better consumed in natural form rather than in capsules so try to introduce the above-mentioned foods where you can, and always consult a healthcare professional if you feel your stress and sleeplessness is becoming too much.
Stress may affect your breathing whilst at sleep, causing the soft tissue at the back of the throat to collapse. Consider having a sleep study done if you wake up feeling exhausted every day after what should’ve been enough sleep. It may help determine if you have a health issue. For more information click here.
HAPPY MOOD FOOD
Asparagus, beans, peas, egg yolks, sunflower seeds, spinach (yes leafy greens again), meat, fish and poultry all contain folate and Vitamin B which work to keep homocysteine levels low. When levels of homocystiene become too high it can lead to depression, especially in women. Foods with Vitamin B, also help to create neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which calms and reduces anxiety.
Vitamin B6, available in leafy greens and seeds, aids the adrenal glands in producing adrenalin. Adrenalin controls your body’s fight-or-flight response to stress. When experiencing high levels of stress, your Vitamin B6 stores may become depleted and eventually result in adrenal or chronic fatigue. Vitamin B6 can also help relieve PMS (load up ladies!).
Onions, romaine lettuce and tomatoes contain Chromium, essential for insulin production, which regulates our blood sugar. Keeping blood sugar in balance is essential to stable moods.
Fish, flaxseed, hemp and avocado oils that contain omega-3 fatty acids may relieve, and protect against, depression. Studies have shown that the more fish a country’s population eats, the lower its suicide and homicide rates! Fish also contains lots of Vitamin D which is known to improve your mood.
ENERGISING AND FOCUSING MOOD FOODS
Meat, eggs and seafood contain Vitamin B12. Deficiencies in iron and Vitamin B12 can cause anemia, which contributes to low energy. Vitamin C aids in iron absorption so try to combine eating these proteins with foods high in Vitamin C e.g. bell peppers, kale and tomatoes.
Avocados, bananas, beans, eggs and meat (poultry, lamb and lean beef) contain the amino acid tyrosine, which increases levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, your ‘energising’ brain chemicals which also boost concentration.
Seeds, nuts and beans contain Zinc which helps to turn Omega-3 fats found in fish and seed oils into prostaglandins, which are vital for concentration.
Water. Dehydration can also contribute to poor concentration and low energy. I’m terrible at staying hydrated especially in winter. Try to stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking water or herbal teas.
(RELATED POST: Tea- the wonders of an ancient brew)
If you constantly struggle to concentrate, are very disorganised, forgetful and overwhelmed by your responsibilities you may want to read further here.
It’s very easy to incorporate these mood foods into our daily diet. For example you can add baby spinach to your salad or a few almonds to your breakfast. Wraps are easy ways to add many mood foods to your lunch. Try make your own grain-free wraps like Jill’s 5-minute cassava flour tortillas that she made during her annual Goop detox. These small changes can have a big impact on your mood and general wellbeing.