Wednesday 26 October 2016

The best foods to help impact your mood in a positive way

Gaye Godkin

Published 16/11/2015 | 02:30

Food for your mood
Food for your mood

The food choices that we make impact either positively or negatively on our everyday mood. Research shows that certain foods improve mood and as we feel better we make wiser food choices.

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Appetite and feeling satisfied are controlled by hormone signalling from the digestive system back to the brain. Therefore it is important not to allow ourselves to become ravenous, as we may be driven to make poor food choices which directly affect our mood and behaviours.

By eating regularly, we stabilise our blood sugars which are the essential fuel of the brain.

There are hundreds of neurotransmitters in the brain which are involved in mood regulation. Serotonin, which is known as the 'happy hormone', is made from a protein called tryptophan.

By eating protein with each meal we provide the necessary raw material to manufacture serotonin. Good sources of tryptophan include flaxseeds, lentils, pork, chicken, bananas, nuts, turkey, eggs and milk. The key is to have a diversity of proteins in the diet.

However the synthesis of tryptophan begins in the gut. The production and availability of serotonin to the brain depends on good gut health.

It is now indisputable that there is a connection between gut health and mood. There are over 2kg of bacteria in the gut, there are 100 times more bacteria than cells in the body. The workings of these bacteria has a significant impact on our mental health.

People who suffer with IBS and gastrointestinal issues have low energy and very often low mood as their gut function is compromised.

Keeping the bacteria in the gut well fed and happy is key to energy production and mood balancing. The food they require is fibre-rich prebiotic foods which come from the plant kingdom.

They multiply and flourish on insoluble fibre-rich foods such as, peas, beans, lentils, apples with the skin on, nuts and vegetables.

It is imperative that we nourish our gut bacteria to manufacture our happy hormone more efficiently.

They are also key to the detoxification process of the body. A sluggish digestive system results in bloating, distension and lethargy which can lead to exhaustion and low mood.

Fats also play a crucial role in mood regulation. The brain is a fatty organ. Thirty-three per cent of the brain is made up of omega 3. Eating oily fish three times per week supports brain function. Include eggs which contain phospholipids which influence hormone signalling.

Eggs also contain choline, an essential brain fat. Feeling overwhelmed can lead to physical and mental exhaustion. Eating a diet high in plant rich anti-oxidant foods helps to reduce damage from oxidative stress on brain cells and cleans up debris in the brain.

Aim to include brightly coloured fruit and vegetables daily. Purple, orange, red, yellow and green repair damage done to cells on a daily basis. Dark chocolate-rich cocoa is a real treat and a super mood booster.

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