Do you know the power of food for health, mood, and mindfulness?
If you do, great! But, if you struggle with making nutritious choices regularly, you are not alone. Making healthy, nutrition-packed choices can be quite a difficult undertaking. But it’s worth the effort. Proper nutrition can impact every aspect of your life, not just physical health, but also mood and mental health.
The connection between food and mood is becoming not only more well known but also more well researched. It is no secret that inflammatory foods such as sugar have played a pivotal role in physical health, and now we have made the connection to mental health, as well. When we talk about reduction of stress, people often think of work stress and home life stress, but they also have to think of dietary stress, and part of that is sugar because of the way it impacts the brain’s reward center.
Neurotransmitter pathways (brain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin) rely on a variety of nutrients to create the transmission. You are what you eat is a catchy saying, but one that holds true. What you eat can impact your mood.
Ask yourself: does my plate promote overall physical and mental health?
If not, here are four foods to help boost your overall health, mood, and mindfulness:
Proteins are a top priority for mental wellbeing. Proteins offer the brain the amino acids it needs to create neurotransmitter pathways. The second thing proteins do is stabilize blood sugar. When blood sugar is not stable, you can feel more depressed or anxious. Protein helps regulate blood sugar balance and prevents mood highs and lows. Animal proteins, such as meats, poultry, dairy, cheese, and eggs, tend to benefit mental health the most. Plant proteins such as beans, peas, and grains and nuts can also be used, but pay careful attention to food pairing for complete protein.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Researchers have been investigating the impact of omega 3 fatty acids on mood and have found that two omega-3 fatty acids — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have the most potential to benefit those with mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety. Omega 3 fatty acids are also considered anti-inflammatory, which can help with depression. You can find omega 3 fatty acids in fish and other seafood (especially cold-water fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines), and nuts and seeds (like flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts).
B Vitamins are essential nutrient cofactors for brain wellness and immune function. B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning they can’t be stored in the body, so, you need to get them through the foods you eat (or supplementation) every day. Some of the best sources of B vitamins include meat, poultry, fish, avocados, citrus fruits, legumes, eggs, and whole grains.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for mood and is one that is often overlooked. Vitamin D is often fortified within the foods that we eat. We can get vitamin D through sun exposure (primarily through the eyes and skin), proper supplementation, fatty fish (tuna, mackerel, and salmon), and foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, beef liver, cheese, and egg yolk.
Looking for other ways to support your healthy lifestyle? Check out 5 Buzzworthy Herbs That Support a More Restful, Relaxed Lifestyle.