Which foods can directly affect our mood? And how do we, as busy women, easily add them to our diet?
The science is always evolving but we do understand quite a lot about how our diet influences our moods. In a nutshell; the food we eat creates changes in our brain chemistry, and physiology, which leads to changes in behaviour. What’s more our nervous system, brain and gut are intertwined in an intricate complicated dance and 90% of our bodies serotonin is produced in the gut.
Science has shown there are quite a few things we can do, food-wise, to help stabilise our moods. Our top three takeaways (in case you read no further) are 1. Good fats (omega 3’s) 2. Probiotic foods 3. Antioxidant and nutrient dense foods.
Here is a list of some top foods to boost your mood and support your nervous system. Throw them all together on a platter for an ascetically pleasing mood boosting rainbow that will always put a smile on your dial.
Avocados- My number one mood boosting food!! Avocados are natural hormone balancers (they help the brain make the right chemicals), they are a great source of monounsaturated fat , Vitamin B5, vitamin C , potassium, antioxidants, Vitamin E & K.
Sauerkraut (Fermented foods)- Rich in probiotics (good bacteria) and minerals. Emerging research suggests probiotics improve mood and combat depression by altering serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. Our good bacteria in the gut is able to send and receives signals to the brain via the gut-brain axis
Walnuts- Walnuts are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, particularly DHA. Research suggests that DHA may be the key to boosting your brain’s performance and preventing age-related cognitive decline. They are also high in omega 6 fatty acids, protein, Vitamin E and B6 making them an excellent source of nourishment for your nervous system working to boost your brain’s serotonin levels. (They also resemble a mini brain!)
Green leafy veges- They are high in b complex vitamins, vitamin c, vitamin e, magnesium and iron. Spinach in particular is high in vitamin A, vitamin C and Folate. Although the connection isn't fully understood, low folate levels have been consistently associated with depression in research.
Berries- Loaded with antioxidants and vitamin C. Blueberries help to maintain brain function and improve memory. Blueberries can also change the pathways involved in causing inflammation, cell survival, nerve cell transmission and ability of the nerve cell to be flexible. Raspberries like blueberries contain anthocyanins which protect the brain from oxidative stress and lessen the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
Beetroot- High in antioxidants. Beets reduce inflammation and help to rid the blood of toxins. Beetroot has natural nitrates that help to boost blood flow to the brain therefore boosting cognitive abilities.
Cacao- How we love cacao! Cacao contains L-tryptophan a neurotransmitter that helps to calm the mind. As well as being extremely antioxidant rich.
Almonds, cashews, brazil nuts- These nuts in particular are high in magnesium and B vitamins too to help the smooth running of your nervous system.
Flaxseeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame- These tiny seeds contain a huge amount of goodness. They are a great source of plant-based protein, fibre, healthy fatty acids and a variety of minerals. They also contain Omega-3 fatty acids which helps improve brain function and boost the immune system.
Celery- Celery contains vitamin C and antioxidants. Celery supports the nervous system via its detoxifying properties and provides support through its ability to act as a blood purifier.
Cauliflower- Cauliflower is one of the best sources of choline. Choline is essential for many healthy nervous system functions, including mood regulation, memory, and muscle control. Cauliflower is high in vitamin C, magnesium and potassium.
Seaweed- Seaweed is rich in iodine. Too little iodine can trigger fatigue and depression. Seaweed is high in vitamin C and E. Seaweed is also a great source of B12 which is an essential nutrient for healthy nerve and blood cells.