Tips to eat well and feel great
Posted on 04 May 2022
The links between food and mood are well established. Improving your diet and having regular meals can help you feel more positive.
A healthy diet helps our body function at its best and as a result, impacts our mood and sense of wellbeing. Staying hydrated and getting the nutrients we need aids clearer thinking, energy production, and feelings of calm.
Science has shown that what’s in our gut directly affects our brain as they are in constant communication. Serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’ that’s essential for regulating mood, emotion, and sleep, is almost exclusively made in our gut.
5 quick tips to get started:
1. Try tryptophan
Tryptophan is an amino acid needed to make our ‘happy hormone’, serotonin. Find it in bananas, walnuts, brown rice, eggs, chicken, and fish.
2. B vitamins
We need B vitamins to get or make energy from our food. B vitamin-rich foods include wholegrains, fish and seafood, meat, eggs, milk, leafy green vegetables, beans and peas.
3. Drink up
Dehydration can cause mood changes, fatigue, poor concentration and slower responses. Aim for 6-8 glasses of water a day.
4. Cut down on caffeine
Too much caffeine can make us feel anxious and disturb your sleep, so switch to decaffeinated coffee or herbal tea to help cut down your intake.
5. Don’t skip meals
When our blood sugar drops, we can become tired and experience low mood. Eat regular meals and up your intake of foods that release energy slowly, such as nuts, oats, seeds and wholegrains.
Budget-friendly brain boosters
Wholegrains like brown rice, wholemeal bread and wholegrain cereals release energy slowly, keeping your brain alert throughout the day. Make the swap for your favourite rice and chilli or lunchtime toastie.
Eggs offer a variety of vitamins, including B12 (which supports the reduction of tiredness), B5 (which supports normal mental performance) and B2 (which helps you get energy). Turn two eggs into a speedy omelette; throw in some blanched peas and sliced cherry tomatoes for a lunch that’s ready in 5 mins.
Tinned salmon is great value and a source of essential fatty acids like omega-3, which contributes to the maintenance of normal brain function and can also help keep your heart healthy.
Nuts are often a source of vitamin E (hazelnuts, almonds, pecans and Brazil nuts are all rich in it), an antioxidant that helps protect cells from oxidative stress. Several studies suggest that oxidative stress may play a role in causing Alzheimer’s disease*. Toast them lightly and scatter them on porridge or yogurt.
Live yogurt naturally contains probiotics, known to encourage good gut health, which in turn is linked to lower anxiety and stress levels.
Spinach and other leafy greens such as kale are full of essential nutrients like vitamin C and iron. Add a handful to cooked breakfasts, stir into pasta or toss through a bean salad.
To find out more about food and mood, check out our article Eat better, feel better.
*Source: Alzheimer’s org.uk