It’s natural when we feel sad or depressed to reach for comfort foods; fatty, sugary, processed foods; foods like pizza, cheese sandwiches, crisps and cake! Unfortunately nutritional advice is that these foods will not help lift our spirits or change how we are feeling.
The food we eat is linked to our moods, emotional state and our behaviour. Science has proved many times over that adding more micronutrients to our diet and reducing sugar and unhealthy fats really does boost our emotional state.
Here’s 5 foods to improve your mood according to science:
- Healthy Fats
Polyunsaturated fats (in particular omega-3 fatty acids) play a vital role in the brain by modifying inflammation. Neuro-inflammation is associated with depression.
Omega-3 fats are found in high quantities in oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel and can also be found in oysters, walnuts and seeds.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid required to produce serotonin. Serotonin is thought to produce mood stability.
Foods that support tryptophan include seeds, nuts, cheese, oats and meats.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D is important in activating the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin.
Vitamin D is found mostly in oily fish and some dairy products. The best source is sunshine.
- B vitamins
B vitamins play an important role in producing brain chemicals that regulate mood.
The best way to get adequate B vitamins is to have a healthy and varied diet. For those who avoid meat products B12 can be difficult to find and is usually taken in nutritional yeast or fortified products.
- Fermented foods
Cultured and fermented foods promoted a healthy gut and a more positive mood.
Try yogurt, kefir, fermented vegetables, sauerkraut and pickles.