Find out what foods can support your happiness and how to add these to your diet.
Food not only powers the body, but it also fuels the brain. What we choose to eat has an impact on our mood, behaviours and how our body functions. Mood-boosting foods have natural compounds that can support proficient brain function, increase serotonin levels, improve capacity to cope, and boost happiness.
5 Modern, Mood-boosting Food Categories
1. Pre & Pro biotics
A healthy gut is responsible for making up to 90% of the body’s serotonin, the happy hormone that regulates your mood. The best way to support the gut is to ensure the microbiome is healthy and well-balanced. Do this by eating both pre and probiotics. A healthy gut is a happy gut, which will not only support your happiness, but your overall health.
Research shows that there is a direct link between the health of our gut and the state of our mind. The gut-brain axis is the term used for this specific communication network. Click here to read what Dr Libby Weaver has to say about this amazing phenomenon.
The fermentation process creates probiotics. Beneficial fermented foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, miso, tamari, tempeh, sourdough, yoghurt, apple cider vinegar and kombucha. Learn why and how to get more pre & probiotics into your diet with our informative and easy to read blogs What are Prebiotics? and The Benefits of Probiotics.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that you must obtain through your diet, as your body cannot produce them.Omega-3 supports brain function and a better mood.
- Fatty fish like salmon and albacore tuna are high in the omegas DHA and EPA. Sadly, fish quantities are rapidly diminishing in the ocean. Scientists recently learned that fish get their omega from eating algae. Vegan omega supplements are now available.
- Spirulina is a type of algae that contains omega. Try spirulina powder in smoothies or take it in tablet form.
- Hemp is an amazingly sustainable crop and fantastic plant-based source of omega-3. Learn more in our blog Why Hemp is a Superfood.
- Walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds are a source of the omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid or ALA, which the body uses to make EPA and DHA.
3. Healthy Pantry Staples
Exotic superfoods often get recognised for their health benefits. Let’s look at some every day, pantry staples that can help boost your good feelings too.
- Bananas are high in Vitamin B6, and the body needs this to create serotonin. They contain prebiotic fibre which supports a healthy gut. The natural sugar in bananas paired with the fibre is released slowly, supporting a stable mood.
- Blueberries and blackcurrants have antioxidants and folate which helps the body produce serotonin. They also contain polyphenols which reduce oxidative stress.
- Beans & Legumes are high in fibre and plant-based protein, and an excellent source of B vitamins, a mood-boosting nutrient.
- Oats are a source of fibre which helps stabilise blood sugar levels, in turn supporting consistent energy levels and an even mood. The prebiotics in oats support a healthy gut.
- Many nuts & seeds contain selenium and copper, a mineral that supports positive mental health. They also contain tryptophan, an amino acid responsible for producing mood-boosting serotonin.
- Dark Chocolate has a pleasurable taste, texture, and smell, but it’s not the only reason we enjoy chocolate. It has a high concentration of cacao, which is packed with feel-good compounds such as caffeine, tryptophan, theobromine, and phenylalanine.
- The curcumin compound found in turmeric that has shown to support neuro-protective properties on the brain and can boost serotonin levels too.
- We know dark leafy greens are good for us, but did you know the high levels of folic acid are particularly good for improving your mood?
Antioxidants are molecules that fight the free radicals (that can cause harm) in the body. Flavonoids are a special group of polyphenols, found in colourful fruit and vegetables. They are rich in antioxidant activity and support cognitive function in the brain.
Polyphenol-rich foods have been shown to boost moods. Foods rich in polyphenols include cacao, berries, blueberries, and green tea. Flavonoids appear to make all creatures happier.
Adaptogens are plants or herbs that have the ability to help our bodies manage stress, maintain balance and adapt to what life throws at us. When we are able to adapt to stress and fatigue, we can be in a better mood.
Adaptogens tend to be herbs and mushrooms. Some herbs include: ginseng, Siberian ginseng, Ashwagandha and Tulsi (holy basil). Also called functional mushrooms, these have been used therapeutically for centuries: reishi, chaga, turkey tail, lion’s mane, and cordyceps.
Certain foods can also be adaptogenic, such as turmeric, moringa, maca, liquorice root, wild blueberries, kombucha and goji berries.
Simple Tips to Get You Started
- Try new recipes using omega-rich seeds, such as this Life Changing Loaf with Hemp Seeds, Nut & Seed Clusters, or Superfood Protein Bars.
- Snack on protein. Learn more about the Health Benefits and Importance of Eating Protein in our blog.
- Start the day with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a warm glass of water. Or try these Pineapple Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies.
- Choose wholegrains over processed grains. Say yes to wholemeal flour, brown rice, quinoa, rye, and oats.
- Be aware that sugary foods and drinks cause your blood sugar to rise and fall quickly which can cause mood fluctuation. Avoid or reduce consumption of sugar, fried food, processed food, and junk food.
- If you’re looking for a feel-good smoothie, we love this brain boosting smoothie from the amazing neuroscientist, Jim Kwik.
While certain foods can boost your mood, its best to incorporate these foods into an already healthy diet of wholefoods, fruits & vegetables, fibre, protein, and plant-based fat. Everyone’s body is different, so as you try new foods, listen to your body, and find out what works for you. Learn more about eating for a healthy brain, with The Mind Diet.
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