By Lee Holmes
Want to improve your mood? Did you know that food may be a significant piece of the puzzle? The science behind food’s effect on mood comes down to chemical and physiological changes in our brain structure which can lead to altered behaviour. Today I’m sharing my favourite mood foods that have been proven to alter your metabolism and brain chemistry, ultimately affecting your energy level and mood. There is so much hope for your mood in food! The science is showing that you can literally eat your way to happiness, so here are some of my top picks for foods that can boost your emotional health…
A 2012 study reveals that fish oil increases transmission of serotonin in the brain which controls emotion. Because of their ability to increase serotonin levels, fish oils are a lovely mood food to include in your diet. Sardines are my all time favourite source of omega-3 fatty acids and are an affordable and potent source of mood boosting fish oils.
Did you know that brazil nuts are the richest source of the mineral selenium, which helps combat depression? Studies have shown that a small handful of brazil nuts everyday can help improve your emotional health. I like to enjoy them as an on-the-go snack, or chopped and sprinkled over yogurt with grated dark chocolate. .
Broccoli is a staple veg in my diet. It’s rich in B vitamin folate, which is essential for a healthy mood. Low intakes of the B vitamin folate has been linked to depression, and the great news is that Vitamin B also promotes healthy hair and skin, which boosts your self confidence as your complexion glows. I like to steam broccoli and enjoy with white fish, or in a risotto.
Ginger is a gorgeous warming root that has been shown to increase neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals used by brain cells to communicate with each other. They control your ability to focus, concentrate, remember, and regulate mood, cravings, addictions and sleep.
Ginger increases levels of these important brain chemicals, including dopamine, which is considered the “motivation molecule” that helps you get focused and be productive. It’s also in charge of your pleasure-reward system. Fresh ginger root (especially when sliced into a mug with hot water) also assists in stabilising anxiety and panic.
Blueberries can help prevent the release of cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal gland during stressful situations, that travels to the hippocampus (a major portion of your brain) and provides emotional responses. Berries can help control and counter the effects of this hormone’s impact on your mood.
Berries are loaded with anthocyanidins, known to boost brain function and antioxidants, which promote brain and nervous system health. Berries are also low in sugar and calories, so pile them on!
Here’s to eating your way to a happy mood!