Simple Steps to Improve your Mood
20 NOVEMBER 2020
Are you looking for a way to improve your mood? If so, there are a few things you can try, but food is a great place to start.
The mind, body and food have a very strong connection and form the very foundations of our health. It is really important to reflect over your eating habits and make sure that you are fuelling your body and mind adequately, so that you can be your healthiest and happiest self.
A lack of nutrient- rich foods can really affect your brain chemistry and subsequently, the way you feel. Our brains are fuelled by glucose, so low blood sugar should be avoided. Eating at regular intervals and staying away from refined sugars, such as chocolates and sweets, will help keep your blood sugar levels nice and steady. Also, opting for foods that release their energy slowly, like wholemeal pasta or oats, will guarantee that your brain is never drained of energy, so you are constantly high on life (or carbs).
Feeling good from your food comes from giving your body everything it needs. I know it sounds obvious, but we need enough carbohydrate, protein and certain fats to keep our brain cells happy. Carbohydrate-rich foods increase the amounts of serotonin in our brain, a chemical that improves our mood and the way we feel. Protein also raises the concentration of the ‘happy’ chemicals, dopamine and serotonin, so make sure you are getting your daily dose through foods like lean meats, eggs, beans and pulses. Omega-3 fats are also a vital brain-powering nutrient, and can be found in oily fish like salmon, fresh tuna or trout, or alternatively through supplementation.
Are you lacking certain nutrients?
Cutting out food groups can often leave you lacking in some major nutrients that are essential for a good mood. If you don’t eat much meat or dairy, it is really important to substitute these sources of iron, B vitamins, vitamin D, folate and selenium. The best way to make sure you aren’t missing out on these mood-enhancing nutrients, is to increase your intake of wholegrain cereals, beans and pulses, green vegetables, and also nuts and seeds. It is also a requirement for all UK citizens to take a vitamin D supplement during the winter months while we’re missing those sunny days.
Looking after your gut bacteria
Recently, there is more and more evidence emerging that our little gut friends, known as our gut microbiota, have a big impact on our brain function and the regulation of our mood. By feeding our bacterial friends with probiotics and a variety of fibre, rest assured they are releasing bundles of good chemicals into our bloodstream. These travel to our brains and positively influence how we feel. So, for probiotics, stock up your fridge with yoghurt or other fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut or your bog-standard pickles. For your fibre, make sure to include a variety of different fruits and vegetables in your diet, as well as eating lots of different whole-grains and cereals.
Good nutrition is important, but there are also other ways to tackle your negative mind set. Exercise is therapy for the brain as it gives you an escape, and increases the amount of that happy hormone dopamine. Make sure to set aside time to yourself and keep in contact with family and friends, as staying social is crucial imperative too. Lastly, focus on getting enough sleep and stay away from large amounts of caffeine, as it can often lead to periods of anxiety, especially if you are not used to it.
Ultimately, a happy mind depends on a wholesome and balanced diet, as well as periods of stress-relief. Make sure you are getting all your fruits, vegetables and wholegrain cereals, with some protein foods including oily fish. Try and eat in regular intervals and choose whole-wheat carbohydrates over refined sugars to keep your blood sugar levels at bay. Nevertheless, our brains are hard-wired to enjoy food, so if you feel like cheering yourself up with your favourite sweet snack then go for it. Eating for pleasure is nothing to be ashamed of, its natural! As long as you don’t become dependant on food to solve your problems, emotional eating can serve a good purpose.
Good luck on your mood-boosting journey!
If you have any concerns about your mood and feel like you have tried everything, speak to your GP who may be able to offer you proper medical care and treatment
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