Being deficient in certain nutrients (e.g. vitamin D3, magnesium, zinc, folate and essential fatty acids) is linked to a low mood and greater risk of depression, while an unhealthy diet which is high in bad fats, sugar and processed foods, is linked with negative changes to chemicals in the brain that can contribute to mood disorders and memory difficulties.
The good news? Simply correcting your diet and nutritional status can improve how you feel. Read on for some tips on how to eat yourself happy.
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1. Nuts and seeds
Add foods such as raw Brazil nuts, almonds, macadamias, pecans, walnuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and chia seeds to your diet. These are all rich in fibre, protein and beneficial fats, plus they're also a great source of nutrients, especially minerals (e.g. magnesium, selenium, zinc). These nutrients can help support the health of your brain and the way your mood-promoting and stress-relieving neurotransmitters work.
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2. Probiotics and fibre
Your intestines and brain are intimately connected, with messages being sent between these two organs constantly (that's how we register when we're hungry and/or full, and why you get an upset stomach when you're nervous). Research is proving that having a healthy gut which is alive with an ideal number of beneficial bacteria is important for the brain and mood. In fact, certain good bacteria can help your brain cope better with stress.
So ensure that you are feeding these good guys with lots of fibre, and avoiding anything like too much sugar, fried foods and excessive alcohol which are known to disrupt the delicate balance. Fermented foods and a supplement can be a great option also.
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3. Deep and brightly coloured vegetables and fruits
These foods are not only high in fibre, but are also rich in many nutrients, and other beneficial phytochemicals and antioxidants that help keep inflammation in the body at bay. These foods also support the body during times of stress and support the health of your intestines. Some great ideas include broccoli, spinach, blueberries, apples, carrots, cauliflower, bok choy, yellow and red capsicum, oranges, tomatoes and sweet potato.
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4. Add in organic greens and beneficial spices
Green tea contains a beneficial amino acid called L-theanine which is known to induce a feeling of being alert, yet relaxed. Therefore, despite the presence of caffeine in this beverage you won't feel wired and on edge as you may after coffee. There are other great antioxidants in green tea which promote health and therefore drinking 3-4 cups per day can be very beneficial.
Spices such as turmeric and cinnamon are rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds which support gut health and can therefore also help the mood. Studies have actually shown that curcumin from turmeric (in therapeutic dosages) can be useful in promoting a better mood. Cinnamon is also great for helping stabilise your blood sugar.
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5. Oily fish
Our brain is made up mostly of fats, so too are the membranes of all the cells in our body . The best fats for helping the health of these areas are the long chain omega-3 fats found in oily fish and some other meats. These have been shown to be important for maintaining the health of our brain and mood. In addition, these fats are also anti-inflammatory, which is very important for supporting the health of your brain and mood. Plant sources of omega-3 that aren't quite as good as fish, but still very beneficial include walnuts, pecans and linseeds.
When shopping for fish, avoid those that are known to be high in mercury (e.g. flake/shark and swordfish), look for wild caught fish, and stick to the oily kind such as sardines and salmon.
And finally, it is important to stay active and get out in the sun to keep your vitamin D levels up. Exercise is shown to be incredibly beneficial for the mood, plus it has so many other benefits.
For more information visit bioceuticals.com.au. Always read the label. If symptoms persist consult your healthcare practitioner.
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