Foods to boost your mood!
We know there’s a strong link between what you eat and how you feel – intuitive eating and nourishing your body with what it needs to thrive will help you feel your best physically. But did you know there are some foods that can also have a direct influence on how you feel emotionally?
Anna and Alex, dietitians from The Biting Truth share the best foods to boost your mood so that you can eat your way to a happier you!
1. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan, the amino acid needed to make several important hormones, including the mood regulating neurotransmitter ‘serotonin’. Serotonin plays a role in reducing anxiety, promoting good moods and producing the hormone melatonin to help regulate your sleep pattern.
Our favourite ways to incorporate pumpkin seeds into our food:
- Sprinkled on top of salads (check out this Roast Pumpkin Salad)
- Mixed through bircher muesli
- Stirred into yoghurt as a snack
- Homemade trail mix with nuts and seeds
Salmon is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Research suggests people who are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids may be more susceptible to depression and low mood, as these fatty acids make up a large percentage of our brain tissue. Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for good mental health, brain function, energy production, oxygen transfer and immunity. Salmon also contains vitamin B12, which helps produce brain chemicals that affect mood. Low levels of B12 may have a negative effect on your mental health.
Two of our favourite recipes using salmon:
3. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are rich in fibre, calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorus and magnesium. Just one tablespoon of chia seeds contains ~5g of fibre. They’re also rich in protein and packed full of tryptophan, an amino acid that encourages good mood, sleep and a sense of calm.
Our favourite ways to incorporate chia seeds:
- Mixed into salad dressings
- Incorporated into baked goods like muffins and loaves
- Soaked overnight in water or milk and mixed with fruit for a nutritious breakfast
Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that is rich in probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that live inside your gut. You may have heard of the gut-brain axis, which links our gut bacteria and brain. In short, our brains and our guts are in constant communication. While the research has only started scratching the surface, scientists have found differences in the gut bacteria of people with depression compared to otherwise healthy individuals. A diet rich in a variety of probiotics helps to increase the richness and diversity of our gut bacteria, helping to maintain healthy gut function and support mental wellbeing.
Our favourite ways to enjoy kombucha:
- Enjoy a chilled bottle of sparkling MOJO Kombucha as a low sugar alternative to soft drink or juice! Every bottle contains 1 billion probiotics, along with other beneficial compounds such as organic acids.
- Try as a tasty mixer
- Add kombucha to your favourite smoothie recipe or frozen into probiotic popsicles
Quinoa is packed with fibre and contains higher amounts of protein, compared to most grains. This means it can help to keep blood sugar levels stable and you satiated, which is key when it comes to fostering a happier mood and preventing yourself from becoming hangry!
Our favourite recipes using quinoa are:
Chickpeas contain the amino acid, tryptophan. Trytophan is converted in the body into serotonin. As mentioned, serotonin is brain chemical that can improve mood and feelings of relaxation. If tryptophan levels in the body are very low or depleted, the levels of serotonin in the brain drop, which can lead to low mood and irritability.
Some tasty chickpea recipes include:
- Cinnamon Roasted Vegetables with Yoghurt Dressing
- Chickpea and Sweet Potato Rainbow Salad
- Easy Peasy Hummus
7. Greek Yoghurt
All yoghurt contains protein, however Greek Yoghurt is particularly high, which means adding it to meals or enjoying it as a snack can be a great way to satisfy hunger and stabilize blood sugar levels throughout the day. Yoghurt is also rich in probiotics (the healthy gut bacteria!), which is essential for optimal gut functioning and mood enhancing benefits.
Try these delicious ideas to get more yoghurt into your diet:
Cheers to your health!
– Alex and Anna, The Biting Truth
Originally written for The Body Image Movement.