You’ve heard what you eat can affect how you feel, but have you ever wondered why?
Research shows foods including Kimchi, matcha, Brazil nuts, dark leafy greens and even dark chocolate, among many others, are rich in mood-boosting properties and may help to help keep low moods at bay.
So just why are they so good for our mood?
Brazil nuts are one of the richest dietary sources of Selenium, an essential mineral that can have a big impact on your mood. Selenium can also be found in our Daily Multi-Vitamin.
The Vegan Society suggests that two Brazil nuts a day may meet your requirements, although the Selenium content in the nuts can vary as it depends on the selenium levels in the soil that the plant grows in. Some studies have found that people with low levels of Selenium are more likely to feel low, and a low intake can lead to negative mood states, including depression.
The opposite is found when Selenium intake is increased - people tend to experience improved mood.
We recommend you keep brazil nuts handy for a tasty afternoon snack but only eat a few each day - too high levels of Selenium can cause dizziness, rashes and a metallic taste in your mouth.
This nutritious Japanese green tea powder contains a unique amino-acid called Theanine, which is responsible for producing dopamine and serotonin, the two chemicals that naturally improve your mood, memory and improve alertness.
Theanine is also considered to increase alpha waves in the brain which help calm your brain function and promoting a sense of relaxation.
If you haven’t tried matcha before, try adding 'matcha tea' to your pancake batter, mix it in your chia pudding, or add it to your smoothie or latte.
Kimchi is a Korean dish made from fermented veggies that usually includes green onions, Chinese cabbage and radish, ginger and salt.
Kimchi is rich in multiple nutrients and contains probiotics - live bacteria that benefit our gut health. Studies have linked a healthy composition of gut bacteria with positive effects on mood, which is due to the connection between the gut and the brain, known as the “gut-brain axis”.
A healthy gut produces over 90% of our serotonin so it's crucial to keep our gut microflora thriving with the help of probiotics. Reach for foods like kimchi, kombucha and sauerkraut for your next probiotic fix.
Dark Leafy Greens
Spinach, chard and other leafy greens contain the mood moderating, super-hero mineral Magnesium.
Those of us who get more Magnesium in our diet tend to be happier as Magnesium stimulates receptors of a calming hormone called GABA, and inhibits the stress hormone cortisol, thereby reducing feelings of anxiety and worry.
Unlike milk chocolate, which contains added sugar and milk, dark chocolate contains some powerful compounds associated with the feel-good chemicals in the brain.
They include tryptophan, an amino acid that assists our body in producing serotonin, a well-known mood lifter; phenylethylamine, a compound chemical which stimulates the pleasure centres in the brain to boost endorphins, which are our happy hormones; and anandamide, a fatty acid neurotransmitter, often known as a bliss chemical.
Thanks to these compounds, dark chocolate really can be a delicious way to help you relax and boost your mood!
Written by Riya Lakhani, ANutr
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