Across every stage of our life, the brain needs nutrients to keep it healthy and functioning well. A diet that includes essential fatty acids EPA and DHA found in Omega 3 fish and krill oils, vitamins and minerals are essential for good brain health and function. Vitamin B6 contributes to the normal function of the nervous system.
During the autumn and winter months a lack of sunlight can lead to a lower mood and an increased likelihood of suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). But you don't have to hop on a plane or pay for light therapy, changing what you eat can improve your mood.
There are many explanations for the relationship between what we eat and how it affects our mood. The most notable is how blood sugar level can impact our mood with fluctuations in energy levels. Other reasons may include our reactions to artificial colours or flavourings, low levels of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids or our production of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters, such as serotonin) which are affected by what we eat. So if you’re feeling low, why not test out our top tips on how to eat yourself happy:
Don’t skip breakfast (or any other meals) – By missing meals you are not giving your body the fuel it needs to perform effectively. This can lead to reduced levels of energy and make you feel hungry which can make you irritable and disinterested, thus lowering your mood.
Eat protein – Help to raise serotonin, which is a feel good hormone, by eating foods high in tryptophan fish, turkey, avocado, cottage cheese, organic meats, beans, lentils, cooked tofu and bananas.
Eat good fats – These are essential fats and cannot be made by the body, they need to come from your diet. As the brain is made up of approximately 60 percent fat, eating food rich in omega 3 essential fats, including oily fish and linseed oil, may help improve brain function and have a positive effect on your mood too.
Eat often – To ensure you are fuelling your body throughout the day you should aim to eat at regular intervals. Eating every four to five hours will ensure that you maintain a steady blood sugar level and stable mood.
Cut out sugar – Refined carbohydrates such as sugar can cause quick fluctuations in your blood sugar levels which as we have mentioned before affect your mood. These sugars which are widely found in sweets, junk food and fruit juices can cause spikes and drops in energy levels which aren’t idea for your mood as it can make you tired and irritable.
Try some mood lifting foods – Increasing vitamins (such as B12) and fibre in your diet may help you stay healthy and happy. Adding foods high in fibre to meals can help slow down the absorption of sugar from carbohydrates, which helps to stabilise your blood sugar level. Recent studies have shown that vitamin B12 may help combat depression. Ensure your diet is rich in vitamins and fibre by eating vegetables, fresh fruits, lentils and whole-grains such as brown rice/pasta.