5 mood-boosting foods I eat to support my anxiety
You may have noticed that you feel kinda crappy when you eat too much junk and you feel vibrant when you’re chowing down on plenty of fruit and veg.
It’s true that what we put into our body impacts on your mood. The link between our gut and our brain cannot be overstated – and we are only just scratching the surface on the research!
I wanted to share which foods I eat to help boost my mood and mental health.
Being a dietitian/nutritionist and given my natural predisposition to getting anxiety and depression, I’m always mindful about what goes into my mouth and how it can make me feel better!
So today, I wanted to share the ingredients I’m always adding to my diet to naturally support and manage my anxiety and boost my mood. Enjoy :)
1. Greek Yoghurt
I am a big fan of probiotics because early research (and more is certainly needed) suggests that probiotics can support your mood. Hooray!
As I like to get all my nutrients from food instead of supplements (wherever possible), I’m a big fan of yoghurt. Probiotics, like those found in yoghurt, appear to improve the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut and support a healthy gut environment. New research is revealing just how important maintaining a healthy gut is when it comes to our mental health. In fact, they call the gut the second brain!
To naturally supplement your diet, enjoy a serve of yoghurt daily either as a snack, for breakfast with a handful of seeds or in a smoothie. Almost every day I have a serve of probiotic-rich yoghurt. I love to have mine with seeds and nuts and a drizzle of honey (or straight from the tub!!!)
If yoghurt ain’t your thing, speak to your pharmacist about probiotic option for you or add a food like kimchi or other fermented foods into your diet. Yum.
Around one-quarter of Australians are vitamin D deficient which is strange considering we are always in the sun!… But possibly due to us always slip, slop and slapping.
Anyway, low levels of this Vit D are linked depression. This helps to explain why we get seasonal, winter blues and why you feel happy when you’re outside, at the beach or on a picnic.
But the sun is not the only way to get Vitamin D. A cool trick is leaving any mushrooms out in the sun for just an hour. Whilst in the suns rays, they will absorb 100% of your vitamin D needs so when you eat it, it’s a natural supplement. How cool is that? It means you get your mood-boosting vitamin D serve – without the harmful UV rays.
Check out this delicious mushroom recipe!
Boy, oh boy – do I love legumes. Chickpeas are my personal favourite. This humble legume contains really good amounts of Vitamin B6, a vitamin that helps produce neurotransmitters, our brain chemicals. It seems that inadequate levels of B6 have been associated with fatigue and depression.
If you don’t love chickpeas like me, all legumes are going to help your emotional wellbeing as they are slowly digested, helping to keep your mood stable. Choose low GI carbs where ever possible like wholegrain bread and cereals, ancient grains like freekeh and quinoa, sweet potato and corn.
If you don’t already do this, try adding a tin of drained chickpeas to your salads. You can serve them warmed too – yummy when it’s cold outside. Or throw some into a casserole or soup. I personally just eat them plain – but once again, I just love chickpeas. I also like to make a salad with them by adding a chopped red onion, herbs (coriander, parsley etc) with a drizzle of lemon, extra virgin olive oil and a dash of salt.
4. Spinach and Green vegetables
We all know we should eat our leafy greens, but research shows that folate (also known as B6 or Folic Acid) found in foods like spinach, rocket, chard, Brussel sprouts and avocado helps support healthy levels of the happiness neurotransmitter, serotonin. That means that if you don’t get enough folate, your mood can take a dip too. Not ideal….
Green leafy veg also contains antioxidants, which help your brain health by stopping free-radical damage to your brain cells, that can lead to a depressed mood.
Good thing lots of yummy leafy greens are in season at the moment. Enjoy leafy greens daily in a delicious, fresh salad, in your smoothie or have a handful (or 2-3) of spinach as a side to your brekkie.
You’ve heard it before but I’m going to repeat it because it’s true. Oily fish is super good for your brain.
Salmon and other oily fish like sardines and mackerel contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which play an important role in our brain health.
FYI – Omega-3 fatty acids cannot be synthesised in the body so we need to eat foods that will give us this key nutrient.
Studies have shown that consuming omega-3 rich fish like salmon helps decrease the risk of suicide, depression and psychosis. Eating foods containing omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, chia seeds, walnuts can ward off mood swings and also helps with memory and academic performance.
Oily fish can be an easy one to add into your diet if you like Japanese food – Hello sashimi and sushi! Otherwise, have a tin of salmon, mackerel or sardines on wholegrain crackers instead of cheese or throw into your salad.
I also try and buy a fish fillet to cook and eat every Monday. That way, I’m more likely to eat it regularly. It’s also the day I go shopping so that makes sense practically. Pick a day or two during the week to be ‘fish’ night and get creative. Why not try fish tacos? I know that meal would make me happy!