Food and how it affects your mood

Do you find life a struggle sometimes, with so much you need to do but no motivation to do it? You wake up and feel overwhelmed by the day ahead and generally feel low. We now know that food can directly affect how we feel, think and behave!

Evidence linking diet and mood, concentration, IQ, anxiety levels and wellbeing is growing at a rapid pace.  Anyone who has ever drank alcohol, tea or coffee or eaten chocolate knows that such products can improve one’s mood. However, it is not commonly known that something as simple as low levels of certain nutrients can leave you feeling blue or simply unmotivated.

Studies demonstrate how low intakes of fish (rich in omega 3 fats), is correlated with high levels of depression among its citizens – and the reverse – have been shown for many types of depression. Those with low intakes of folate, or folic acid, have been found to be significantly more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those with higher intakes. Similar conclusions have been drawn from studies looking at the association of depression with low levels of zinc and vitamins B1, B2 and C.

Complex carbohydrates, as well as certain food components such as folic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium and tryptophan are thought to decrease the symptoms of depression.

How you help improve your mood and overall wellbeing with simple dietary changes?

What looks like a reasonably healthy diet may not be providing your body with sufficient nutrients to produce the feel good hormone Serotonin or fuel the neurotransmitters in your brain.

Plan a weekly menu for you and your family, ensuring you are getting a diet rich in the following nutrients:

  • Omega 3 fats for both brain structure and function (oily fish such as wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, pilchards) or take a good quality fish oil supplement.
  • Protein (amino acids), known as the architect of mood and mind.  They help produce the brain’s essential messengers, neurotransmitters (fish, poultry, eggs, meat, dairy, legumes, nuts, seeds).
  • Phospholipids enhance our mood, mind and mental performance (eggs, sardines, organ meat, or, if you don’t eat these sprinkle over your cereal or in a yoghurt 1 tablespoon of lecithin).
  • Balanced blood sugar levels – aim to eat regularly, three low GI small meals and two snacks a day to avoid blood sugar dips, which make us feel tired, and negatively affect our mood. Aim to pair up some protein with complex carbohydrates and ditch the ‘white stuff’; white bread, baguettes, buns, biscuits, white pasta and watch your energy levels soar!
  • Vitamins and Minerals are the intelligent nutrients to keep the brain in tune (aim to eat plenty of fresh brightly coloured fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds in your diet).

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