Food for thoughts… healthy eating for your mind, body and soul
“Your health is what you make of it. Everything you do and think either adds to the vitality, energy and spirit you possess or takes away from it.” Ann Wigmore
Eating healthy whole foods and leading a lifestyle to match has a myriad of benefits such as looking good, performing better and having more energy but have you ever considered the benefits of healthy eating for your mental wellbeing.
The food we eat is linked to our mood, emotions, and behavior and affects how we think and feel. Here are eight ways to nutritionally boost your mood and optimise your foods to look after your mind while you nourish your body.
- Eat healthy fats – especially ones rich in omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in how the brain functions and reducing neuro-inflammation which is associated with depression. Sources of omega-3 fats include seeds, walnuts, and oysters, although the highest amounts exist in oily fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel.
- Eat foods which contain tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid (the building blocks of proteins) and is required to produce serotonin. Serotonin is thought to stabilise moods, and reduced levels have been found in people with depression. Foods that naturally support tryptophan levels include seeds, nuts, cheese, oats, and meats.
- Vitamin D does more than just is vital in activating the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin. Few foods are rich in vitamin D, with oily fish topping the list, but the best source is sunshine.
- B vitamins, including folate (B9), play an important role in producing chemicals in the brain that regulate mood. The best way to ensure adequate B vitamins is to consume a healthy, varied diet. B12 can be tricky for those on plant pased diets, if this is you soy products and nutritional yeast are good sources.
- Cut back on the sugar! When we over consume sugar, it’s poorly digested and passes into the colon. There it fuels the growth of “bad” bacteria, which can wreak havoc on your health, promoting inflammation and disrupting the healthy ecology of your gut microbiome. The majority of serotonin is made in your gut, which is influenced by the health of your gutbiome.
- Choose complex carbs. Complex carbohydrates are more slowly digested and offer a gradual release of energy into the blood stream. They also support the body’s natural detox systems and promote the activity of desirable gut bacteria. Try adding more root vegetables, legumes, and buckwheat to your diet.
- Fermented foods. Cultured and fermented foods promote a healthy gut, which can lead to a more positive mood. Food choices include yogurt, kefir, fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchee.
- Drink water! It’s essential for the trillions of tiny chemical reactions that energize us throughout the day and stabilize our mood. Dehydration can cause fatigue and irritability, and drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated.