We know that diet and what we eat affects our physical health, but did you know that it can also affect our mental health too?
The best mood-boosting foods may not always be those you immediately think to gravitate towards in order to get a pick me up. Often we tend to reach for highly processed foods which may temporarily taste delicious but leave us feeling less than great afterwards and can lead us down a spiral of binge eating, mood swings and an imbalance in our blood sugar levels.
Studies have shown that there is a direct link between the food we eat and our mood including how we feel. Foods which feed your body with nutrients allow your brain to produce neurotransmitters which give you a kind of natural high which sounds like something we all want, right?
Having a consistent and healthy dietary pattern feeds our body with a whole range of nutrients which can protect against the development of mental health disorders including depression and anxiety. Not only this, there is emerging evidence which suggests that a healthy diet can improve our gut health which can be of benefit to our mental health too!
So, what foods can help improve our mood and the way we feel?
1. Raw Nuts
Not the caramel glazed or sugar-coated nuts which cause a rollercoaster for our blood sugar levels. I’m talking about 100% raw nuts. Raw nuts are full of health benefits and are a great snack for when you need a mid-afternoon pick me up. They contain serotonin which is our body’s ‘feel good’ hormone which makes us feel great as well as helping to reduce sugary cravings throughout the day! Nuts contain high levels of antioxidants as well as healthy fats and help to keep us feeling satisfied. A handful or two is all you need to reap the benefits!
Avocados aren’t just absolutely delicious. They also work as natural hormone balancers by ensuring the brain is producing the right chemicals it needs in order to keep us feeling good. Not only this, avocados are packed with health benefits from protecting your heart, providing healthy fats which our bodies need, improving digestion as well as improving your mood.
Salmon is excellent for your brain health and your mood. Salmon contains high amounts of Vitamin B12 which, amongst many others, is an essential vitamin needed to stay mentally healthy and to reduce the risk of developing depression. Salmon also contains essential fatty acids which help to keep your brain functioning at its optimum and keeping you feeling good.
Strawberries contain a range of vitamins and nutrients such as Vitamin C and Manganese. Not only are strawberries one of the most popular of the fruits and taste delicious, they also help to boost the happy chemicals which get produced in the brain! Strawberries also contain high levels of antioxidants which help to remove free radicals from the body, leading to reduced levels of oxidative stress which has been suggested to reduce the risk of developing depression.
5. Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms contain high levels of Vitamin B6 which is an important vitamin for improving your mood and the way you feel. Vitamin B6 has been shown to improve the production of serotonin (our feel good hormone) and therefore helps to improve our mood and naturally reduce stress levels.
Whilst it’s important to make sure we are eating the right types of foods in order to improve our mood and mental health, it’s equally as important to be aware of which foods we should be actively avoiding in order to reduce the risk of developing depression, anxiety or a general low mood. Foods which should be avoided include highly processed foods such as sweets, soft drinks, an excessive intake of caffeine and high levels of saturated fats.
The food we eat has a huge impact on the way we feel and our mood. Try to focus on eating a healthy balanced diet, remember we are all different so find what works for you and what foods you can incorporate into your routine. Every healthy choice we make is a step in the right direction and once you notice how good you feel, you won’t want to slip back into old habits.