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Food for Thought: How Food Affects Your Mood


Hello everyone! Today, we're chatting about something super important that we often take for granted – how the food we eat can play a big role in how we feel, both in our bodies and in our minds.


The Connection Between Your Plate and Your Mood


Have you ever noticed that your mood seems a bit “blah” when you’ve been neglecting your nutrition? Maybe you haven’t had much water or it’s been a while since a fruit or veggie made it into your system. It's not a coincidence. The relationship between what we eat and how we feel is actually backed by science.


Certain nutrients in food help create, manage, and send neurotransmitters, the 'message carriers' of your brain. An imbalance or lack of these nutrients can cause a drop in your natural mood boosters - such as serotonin, adrenaline, and dopamine which can lead to emotional discomfort.



Serotonin, for example, is often known as the feel-good hormone, promoting a sense of positive wellbeing and happiness. Did you know that our gut, often referred to as the second brain, produces about 95% of the serotonin that controls our mood? Nourishing the gut with a balanced diet is essential for serotonin production.


So how can you “feed” your mental health?

Here are some simple foods that you can add to your diet to help keep your mind happy:


Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Foods rich in omega-3s, like fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts, are known to support brain health. Omega-3s play a crucial role in brain cell structure and function.


Leafy Greens: Vegetables like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which can help improve mood and brain health.


Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, and other berries are rich in antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, factors that can negatively affect brain health.


Nuts and Seeds: These are not only great sources of omega-3 fatty acids but also contain antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that support brain health. Almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds are particularly beneficial.


Whole Grains: Whole grains like oats, quinoa, and brown rice provide steady energy to the brain, which can help with cognitive function and mood regulation.


Lean Proteins: Sources of lean protein, such as chicken, turkey, fish, and plant-based proteins like beans and lentils, provide essential amino acids that are crucial for neurotransmitter function, impacting mood and mental health.


Yoghurt and Fermented Foods: These foods contain probiotics, which can positively influence gut health. There's growing evidence that a healthy gut microbiome is linked to better mental health.


Dark Chocolate: Rich in flavonoids, caffeine, and theobromine, dark chocolate in moderation can boost mood and cognitive function.


Turmeric: This spice contains curcumin, which has been shown to have neuroprotective properties and can help reduce inflammation.


Green Tea: It contains L-theanine, an amino acid that can have a calming effect and improve brain function.


Not all foods are heroes

Some foods can be a bit sneaky and not so good for your mood. Foods high in added sugars, heavily processed snacks, junk food and even some foods advertised as ‘health foods’ often lead to a temporary high, followed by a crash that leaves you feeling drained and lethargic. This can contribute to increased anxiety and depression too.


Here are some of the ingredients commonly found in processed foods you should be cautious of: High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), Artificial Sweeteners like Aspartame and Sucralose, Dextrose, trans-fats AKA hydrogenated oils, flavour enhancers such as Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and artificial colours and preservatives.


It's All About Balance

Eating right doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to all your favourite treats. It's all about finding the right balance. A little bit of junk or something sweet is absolutely fine every now and then – it's all about moderation and making sure you're also filling up on those brain-loving nutrients along the way.


Listen to Your Body

The coolest thing? You can be your own food detective. Pay attention to how different foods make you feel. If a certain snack or food leaves you feeling super energized and happy, that's your body's way of saying, "Yes, more of this, please!" Other foods may leave you feeling bloated, groggy and


On the last note:

While food plays a significant role in supporting your mental health, it's important to understand that it's not a cure-all solution. A holistic approach to wellbeing involves multiple factors, including your overall lifestyle, self-care practices, and, when necessary, medical guidance. These elements all work together and contribute to the overall picture of your health.


Adding nutritious foods into our diet is undoubtedly a positive step, but it's just one piece of the larger puzzle of maintaining your mental wellbeing.


So, remember, that the food you eat can really affect how you feel and think. Choosing the right foods can help you feel happier, more focused, and ready to take on whatever comes your way. Keep exploring and enjoying all the nutritious options out there, and find the perfect balance for your happy, healthy self! You’ve got this! 🌈🍓🍫🧠



Here are some resources for easy healthy recipes to nourish your mind and body:

https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/nutrition/cooking-skills/quick-healthy-meals

https://fitfoodiefinds.com/the-50-best-oatmeal-recipes-on-the-planet/

https://downshiftology.com/healthy-snacks/

https://nosweatvegan.com/easy-vegan-meals-made-from-pantry-ingredients/

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/cooking-for-one.htm



More info about mind and food:

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/food-and-mental-health/

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/a-z-topics/diet-and-mental-health

https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=CSHO9VdVRfg





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