Five Foods to Boost your Mood

August 18, 2015 BY: LISA

Food and Mood

Today is not the first time I have been asked to provide comment to the media about foods that boost your mood. It is an enticing thought that there are a few foods that will cure your blues and act as a pick-me-up.

 

While there are particular nutrients that have been linked with low energy and low mood such as iron, folate, selenium, and B group vitamins; supplements are not generally the answer. It comes back to eating a healthy balanced diet in order to eat the foods that contain the beneficial nutrients.

 

Food can impact your mood not only for the nutrients present. There are other reasons that you will feel better if you are eating well.

 

  • If you are eating a healthy balanced diet your bowels will be regular and you will feel lighter and less bloated.
  • A healthy diet containing whole grain, high fibre carbohydrates (low GI) and minimising the lower fibre, higher sugar and saturated fat will help to balance your blood sugar levels.
  • Psychologically, if you are eating the foods you believe you “should” you will feel better about yourself and be empowered to continue to eat well. Once again the mind is a powerful ally in the battle to eat well.

 

Top Five Foods that Boost your Mood:

 

  1. Water – although not a food it is important to be well hydrated. Even mild dehydration can cause irritability and decreased performance. Aim to get at least 3-4 glasses in each day, the water in food and other drinks counts but it’s important to prioritise water in your day.
  2. Fruit and vegetables – while most of us eat enough fruit only one in twenty Australians eat the recommended five serves of vegetables each day. These nutrient power houses are a must for feeling good in body and mind.
  3. Omega 3 oils– it’s been noted that countries that have a high intake of seafood, such as Japan, have lower incidences of depression. Eating 2-3 oily fish meals (such as salmon, mackerel, sardines) per week provides the recommended 500mg omega 3 per day. Omega 3 is also found in canola oil, flaxseeds, walnuts, seaweed, soybeans and wheat germ
  4. Nuts – having a small handful or 25-30grams of nuts each can reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes and because they help you feel fuller they help prevent hunger and studies show regular nut eaters do not gain weight. Nuts also contain folate and selenium which are two nutrients shown to affect energy levels and mood.
  5. Dietary fibre rich foods- which are plant based foods including fruit and vegetables as well as nuts, legumes and grain based foods. If you are getting in 25-30grams of fibre per day from these food sources your bowels will be regular, your blood sugar levels well managed and your hunger sorted.

 

A source of protein will also help to provide useful vitamins and minerals as well as helping you to manage hunger levels and prevent over eating; foods such as lean meat, chicken, fish, nuts, legumes, soy, dairy or eggs.

 

What about comfort foods?

 

Comfort foods supposedly make you feel better, with chocolate topping the list. As a dietitian I’m often told these foods do provide comfort however the evidence is slim with most reporting feeling guilty after eating the chocolate or their chosen comfort food. If you are going for a mood booster go for one that lasts!

 

TanteTati / Pixabay

Comfort foods have a strong psychological connection for people and it is the memory of eating the foods at an enjoyable and safe time in the past that has the bigger impact on providing a boost in your mood.

 

Other studies state high protein foods like turkey or foods that contain tryptophan like bananas can make you feel better. Improved mood occurs when serotonin is increased in the brain and tryptophan can do this however the effect is not seen with food based tryptophan as other amino acids compete successfully for transport to the brain so the expected effects are not seen. A couple of easily accessible things that do naturally boost serotonin levels are exposure to sunlight and exercise.(1)

 

Skitterphoto / Pixabay

 

While it’s not necessary for the majority of people to avoid any foods excess sugar, caffeine and alcohol can negatively impact your mood.
Enjoy!

 

Lisa Renn, Accredited Practising Dietitian.

Speaker, Author, Mentor, Trainer

 

 

 

Bibliography:

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2077351/
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