Food is an important factor in Health Optimising and it is well documented that certain foods can boost energy & stabilise mood or contribute to feelings of low mood, anger, irritability & low energy.
Each person may respond very differently, there are no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ foods, only foods that make you feel good, or not so good. It is important to understand the signals your body is giving you and to keep an open mind.
Food Sensitivities - Individuals can be sensitive to any foods and this can also affect your mood. Some individuals may react to gluten, dairy, tomatoes,oranges, kiwi fruit or food additives. Food sensitivity tests and elimination diets may help to identify specific triggers. Speak with your Health Optimising practitioner about available options.
Good Mood Foods:
1. Essential Fats –we need essential fatty acids (EFA's) from our diet as the human body is unable to manufacture them. These fats support brain health, stabilise mood, balance hormones and reduce inflammation in the body.
Food Sources – nuts, seeds, oily fish, eggs, cold pressed seed oils, avocado
2. Vitamins and Minerals – many are required in order for your body to produce the correct levels of neurotransmitters (or brain chemicals) that control your emotional feelings. Most important are the B vitamins (including folic acid), magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese and potassium.
B vitamins and folic acid - avocado, beans, carrots, eggs, nuts, seeds, lentils, whole grains (e.g. brown rice, millet, oats), dark green leafy vegetables
Minerals - nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, beans (e.g. kidney, mung), fruits (especially raspberries, blueberries, strawberries), sea food
3. Amino Acids – These are the building blocks of your brain chemicals. Examples of what the important amino acids can affect include good mood, calming, motivation and arousal, appetite control, healthy sexual function and sleep
Food Sources - nuts, seeds,avocado, fish, lean meat, poultry
Eat meals regularly to maintain blood sugar levels - little and often. Long gaps between meals can exacerbate many symptoms from agitation, tiredness and lack of concentration to depression. Have some protein with every meal and snack, as this slows down the release of sugars. Stick to complex carbohydrates, these are high in fibre and, combined with protein, keep you fuller for longer which will help to sustain your energy levels.
Avoid refined sugary foods - These act like a drug in the body. They go straight into the blood stream from the gut and can give an instant high in terms of both mood and energy. 'What goes up must come down' and following any initial high there can be a significant drop in mood. This will exacerbate any existing condition involving mood swings,depression or anxiety. There are many 'hidden' sugars in processed foods.
Good Mood Fluids:
1. Herbal Teas –Useful herbs include basil, rosemary, lemon balm, chamomile, cinnamon,coriander, ginger, peppermint, St John’s Wort and Valerian. You can also use herbs in cooking (please check with your Health Optimising practitioner before using herbs, as there may be interactions)
2. Water – symptoms such as brain fog, poor concentration and even muscle tension can be a result of dehydration, so drinking plenty of fluids is vital. Do not wait until you feel thirsty to drink,just keep sipping away throughout the day. Aim to drink about 1.5-2 litres of plain water or herbal teas daily. Try warm water from the kettle or flavour it with fresh lemon, lime or a dash of 100% pure fruit juice.
3. Avoid too much caffeine and alcohol - coffee and tea both contain caffeine, which is a stimulant. Like sugar, this can give a lift in mood followed by a low. Caffeine also stresses the adrenal glands, which in turn limits the body's ability to deal with stress. Caffeine can bring on feelings of anxiety.
Alcohol can improve mood initially but is actually a depressant in the long term. Many people feel depressed even after a couple of drinks. Alcohol also effects sleep. It may help you to get off to sleep initially but can lead to chronic sleep problems including waking up too early.