By Leigh O'Connor.
It’s not surprising that good food is linked to a better mood! In these times of uncertainty, it is more important than ever to fill our diet with nutritious foods, which support health and a sense of well-being.
Alimentary’s Alison Wright says food provides our body with the chemicals it needs to function – whether it’s vitamin B6, which plays a major role in our feel-good neurotransmitters; or disease-fighting berries, packed with antioxidants and phenolic compounds – what we eat has a direct impact on how we feel.
"One of the first things I noticed when I started to become more conscious of my nutrition was that my anxiety started to drop away and I felt happy and more content in my daily life,” Ali says. "I stopped getting so worked up about little things and it became easier to keep perspective.
"In fact, one of the ways I know my clients are beginning to get the hang of their nutrient intake, is when I ask them how they’ve been and the response is ‘happier’.”
Try to make sure you are including plenty of food in your diet, that will have a positive impact on your mood. Here are some ideas:
Incorporate food rich in Omega 3:
These foods include oily fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel; walnuts, hemp seeds and flaxseed oil. Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid, which plays an important role in cognition and emotion; as well as being anti-inflammatory – inflammation is associated with both depression and chronic disease.
Include tryptophan in your diet:
Tryptophan is an amino acid, which is important in the production of serotonin, a hormone that boosts our mood and helps us sleep. Foods rich in tryptophan include – turkey, green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and eggs.
Add some spice to your life:
Spicy chillies promote the release of endorphins, a class of neurotransmitters (also released by exercise), which can promote feelings of happiness.
Eat a wide range of different coloured fresh fruit and vegetables:
They contain a huge variety of health promoting antioxidants, which prevent cell damage and have lots of fibre to keep our gut happy. Eating more fruit and vegetables is also linked to lower rates of depression.
Include fermented food in your diet:
With the greatest amount (90%) of the brain chemical serotonin found in our gastrointestinal tract, it is important to include some fermented foods into our diet to keep our gut happy. This can include miso soup, yoghurt, sauerkraut, pickles and kombucha.
Avoid excessive alcohol intake:
Alcohol can make us feel relaxed, but remember it is also a depressant and can destabilise our mood, so try to avoid excessive intake.
While a well-balanced diet, packed with wholefoods, provides support for our health and well-being, if you are suffering from depression, or anxiety; please make sure to seek immediate medical help.
This week’s recipe - spicy turkey Bolognese with red lentil pasta – has all the mood-boosting ingredients to put a smile on your face and spring in your step.
Red lentil pasta is available at supermarkets – not only does it taste delicious, it is far more nutritious than regular pasta, as well as being high in protein.
Cook a big batch of the sauce and freeze portions for the days when you don’t feel like cooking!