My five top tips for feeling great every day!
What you eat can really affect how you feel on a daily basis. It’s amazing to realise that whilst many people suffer from low mood, have difficulty concentrating, and find remembering simple things a struggle, they don’t automatically associate the mind and body as being connected. More importantly, everything that happens with your thinking, feeling, mental energy and focus requires an optimal supply of nutrients and therefore the right nutrition.
Get smart with the omegas!
Your brain is actually around 60% fat and much of this is made up of the ‘good fats’ or the omega-3s and 6s (the essentials!) It makes sense, therefore, that these need to be replenished in order to have optimal brain function. In the brain, they regulate the release and performance of neurotransmitters, one of them our ‘happy’ hormone, serotonin, which obviously is really important for good mood. We know that higher levels of essential fats in the brain, mean higher levels of serotonin. So what to eat? Oily fish, including salmon, mackerel and sardines are key. However, if you’re vegetarian, or don’t like fish, then walnuts, soybeans and wheat germ are great sources of both the omega 3’s and 6’s (remember the brain needs both)! Flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds are also great or look for a supplement that contains both the essential omegas.
Say ‘no’ to the blues!
Serotonin, our happy hormone, is made from the amino acid tryptophan. Therefore, it makes sense to eat your way to happiness by choosing foods from which the body makes serotonin. Some good choices could be; porridge made with soya milk, scrambled eggs with wholemeal toast, grilled chicken breast with baked potato and green beans, salmon fillet with quinoa and a green salad. These are just a few examples. However, it’s also worth noting that tryptophan promotes sleep, so if this is also an issue for you, try a small snack before bedtime – oatcakes are a great choice!
Are you allergic?
It may seem strange to hear but many food allergies provoke mental and emotional changes, and therefore affect mood. This is because there is a physical link between the gut and the brain, therefore one inevitably affects the other. This is also the case with food intolerances, where the body’s reaction can often be delayed after eating certain foods, therefore it’s more difficult to detect. However, one of the most allergenic foods is wheat. This is because wheat contains a protein called gliadin which irritates the gut wall. Dairy produce can also cause allergic reactions in some people and this includes cheese and yoghurt. However, some people can tolerate sheep and goat’s milk but not cows. If you have a history of mood swings, eczema, asthma, ear infections, or frequent colds then it might be worth having your allergies and/or intolerances checked by a Clinical Nutritionist. If you’re affected, the change to your mood by avoiding certain foods can be incredible!
Keep blood sugar in balance!
Keeping balanced blood sugar is critical to keeping even moods. Did you know that your brain consumes more energy (or glucose) than any other organ? Without a constant supply of glucose to the brain, you’ll experience fatigue, poor concentration, irritability, but most of all mood swings. However, eating complex carbohydrates like wholegrains, vegetables, beans or lentils release energy steadily and gradually, therefore your mood stays even. You can further balance your blood sugar by eating some protein such as salmon, chicken, cottage cheese, eggs or nuts at the same time as the complex carbohydrates. Additionally, if you really want to keep your mood even and balanced then you need to steer away from refined sugars, or foods that have a quick effect on blood sugar levels; white toast, cornflakes, white rice, rice cakes, fizzy drinks, biscuits and cakes, should all be avoided or severely reduced for optimal and sustained happiness!
Stressed? Eat eggs!
There’s no doubt that if you’re stressed, this will adversely affect your mood. This is partly because stress reduces serotonin levels and we know we need serotonin to be happy! Interestingly, low oestrogen levels also reduce serotonin, making women more susceptible to low moods, particularly when stressed. There are many different reactions going on in the body during the stress response; the amino acid taurine helps to produce GABA, one of our calming neurotransmitters. So, if there was one food I would recommend above all else to eat for good mood and for calming stress, it would be eggs! They’re packed with tryptophan, they encourage GABA, they’re high in protein, so balance blood sugar levels, and they also contain phospholipids, another group of brain-loving fats!
Feeling more positive every day might be slightly easier than you think!