Our diets are not only important for our bodies, they are also important for our minds. What we eat can influence our moods. Research has suggested that being low in dopamine – which is the “happy hormone” – can cause us to become stressed, anxious and depressed. Some foods can help us to produce dopamine and other mood boosting chemicals. Here are my top food tips to boost your mood:
Ditch Refined Carbs
Diets high in refined carbohydrates can have a big effect on our mood and bodies. Refined carbohydrates include products such as biscuits, cakes and white bread. They are highly processed and will give you a short-term energy hit after eating them. However, the sugar crash that comes afterwards will leave you feeling low in energy which can make you feel low. To avoid this, switch to complex carbohydrates such as, wholegrain bread and brown rice. These release their energy at a slower rate so you will have energy for longer without the sugar crash afterwards.
Add Some Spice
Spicy food causes a tingling taste sensation once consumed. This prompts your body to release endorphins which act as the body’s own painkillers in order to block the heat. The release of endorphins induces a natural high and stimulates the release of dopamine. Endorphins and dopamine are both considered “feel good chemicals”. You can add chilli or cayenne to your meals.
Include Some Meat and Tofu
For those of us who live in the UK or other cold climates, we tend to get less sunlight – especially in the winter – which can lead to a dip in another “feel good chemical” called serotonin. Foods such as tofu, turkey, chicken and nuts are rich in tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid which supports serotonin production. Therefore, these foods will help boost your mood. Enjoy your meat or tofu with a side of complex carbs and lots of colourful veggies to make a great meal for the mind.
Boost Your Energy with Fruit
Fruit such as grapes, oranges, papaya, strawberries, prunes and watermelon are high in an amino acid called tyrosine. Tyrosine is needed for energy and brain function. Enjoy as a fruit salad with some natural or Greek yoghurt (or soya/dairy free alternative if you’re intolerant, allergic or vegan) for breakfast to start your day off well.
Chill with Nuts and Seeds
Nuts such as Brazil nuts are rich in selenium. Selenium is a mineral which can support the body’s resistance against stress. Seeds can also be helpful in fighting against stress. Seeds contain magnesium, vitamin B6, folate and zinc which can all help us to fight off stress. Enjoy as a snack or toast and sprinkle over salads.
Enjoy Life with Veg
According to an Australian study, eating vegetables can lead to increased satisfaction of life. Vegetables such as artichokes, avocados, cabbage, broccoli and leafy greens (i.e. spinach and kale) are full of B vitamins. B vitamins help to boost your serotonin levels and keep you alert. Enjoy a variety of veg as part of your meals.