Food and Mood: The Principles of Healthy Living
They say that we are what we eat and if you’ve ever eaten a kebab after hitting the town, you’ll know the lethargic feeling can bring about your inner sloth. Certain foods can make us feel lazy, fatigued, and can keep us in bed longer than is necessary.
Foods rich in certain vitamins and minerals such as calcium, chromium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B16, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and Zinc are known for their happiness-boosting qualities. It is advised that we eat more of these. Micronutrients such as magnesium have also been shown to have an impact on stress levels, and there have been a number of studies on the use of herbal L 5-hydroxytryptophan (5 HTP) in increasing serotonin levels. Serotonin is our happy hormone and lower levels are linked to depression and anxiety. The amino acid, tryptophan, found in bananas helps is a precursor to the hormone, serotonin, meaning we should ensure to get enough in our diet. There’s also a saying “a banana a day keeps the psychiatrist away.”
Neurotransmitters are the vehicles used to transport information between neurons and other cells. Serotonin and dopamine are the two most important neurotransmitters responsible for mood regulation and these communication vehicles are made from amino acids, which come from the protein we eat. This is why we need to make sure that we eat a wide variety of protein sources throughout the week. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, eating plant-based protein sources are a must.
Since our good mood regulators come from amino acids, one might think that it is good to eat lots of protein. However, this is not entirely true. Eating too much protein in one go is not the way forward though. The various types of amino acids compete with each other meaning that the brain finds it confusing to process.
So, what can you do to ensure optimal brain functioning and a positive mindset?
1. Frequent meals: Eat lighter and more frequent meals to avoid too much processing. Overeating means the body uses precious energy processing the food.
2. Complex Carbs: Wholegrains, oats, brown rice and so forth provide the body with energy to help it function optimally.
3. Protein: Include moderate amounts of protein at every meal (including snacks). These include, meat, poultry, eggs, beans, dairy, nuts, and so forth.
4. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables: the more colourful the better.
5. Keep a gratitude journal: write the 5 things you’re thankful for daily.
Food is fuel. We cannot survive without it. If we eat a restricted diet, our emotional health suffers. It’s important to eat as wide a variety of nutritional goods as possible for optimal wellbeing. What you eat directly impacts the structure and the function of the brain. When your brain gets premium fuel, it functions optimally.