Hello Everyone. Riadh here @thefeelgoodnutritionist.
This week’s blog post is something slightly different. As you all know here at AllThingsFionaLilly headquarters, we are very passionate about mental health and spreading positivity around this topic.
With many of us having experiences of our own with different aspects of mental health we are aware that it is of the utmost importance that we make our mental health a priority, especially in the tough times we are going through at the moment.
So today I wanted to give you some insight into Nutrition for mental health or Food for your Mood as I like to call it.
Our brain is an organ that is sensitive to what we eat and drink just like our stomach and heart. To function to its full potential, it needs different amounts of complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and water. Like an expensive car your brain functions best when it gets premium fuel. This is why adequate nutrition is so important for our mental health. Eating high quality foods that contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress.
Knowing what foods we should and shouldn’t be eating can be really confusing, especially when it feels like the advice changes regularly. But I will try and keep it as simple as possible of foods you can include into your diet to aid your mental health.
These complex carbs release glucose slowly providing a steady source of fuel for our body and brain. The release serotonin which is a mood boosting neurotransmitter. They also contain selenium which is a mineral that helps reduce oxidative stress. Anyone who knows me will be aware that my daily breakfast is always oats! Other sources include beans, quinoa, pasta and whole grain bread.
Proteins such as eggs, beans, turkey, chicken and fish contain the amino acid tryptophan which can help boost your mood and reduce irritability. Tyrosine another amino acid can help promote tranquility and interact with serotonin in the brain to help the feeling of contentment. Turkey rashers are my go to!
These are high in folic acid which most people think is just important for child baring woman but actually it’s amazing for our mental health. it can reduce symptoms of depression, fatigue and insomnia. These are also high in selenium. Spinach is easy to include into a morning ‘Feel Good’ smoothie.
Small amounts of dark chocolate can affect the levels of brain endorphins which are our feel-good chemicals produced by the body. Now I’m not saying to run to Tesco and buy ten bars and go home and eat them in one sitting. But a couple of squares with a cup of tea a day sure does the trick.
Dairy and Active Cultures:
These are rich in vitamin D, calcium and whey protein which help to repair cell damage and stabilize our mood. Fermented foods with active cultures contain healthy bacteria which can reduce anxiety and our stress hormones. Sources include kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut and probiotics.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids:
These produce a sense of calm and lessens high sugar cravings which can lead to a spike and then crash shortly after. Sources include flaxseed, walnuts and certain fish.
I am forever raving about vitamin D as most Irish people are deficient. This is called the sunshine vitamin as it comes from the sun which unfortunately we don’t get enough of so we need to source it elsewhere. Vitamin D is important to prevent or aid SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). You can source this from foods such as egg yolks and fortified foods but you can take it in supplement form which I do myself.
Since alerting my diet and including these nutritious foods as well as minimizing caffeine, processed foods and sugar, I find a huge improvement in my mental health. As Cliché as it sounds you really “are what you eat”
I hope these little tips on Nutrition help and give you a little insight on how food effects our mood. And remember self-care isn’t always bubble baths and new pjs, sometimes in comes in the form of doing what we can to nourish ourselves from the inside. After all that’s just as important.
All my love