How can Healthy Foods ‘Blitz the Blues’
Nutrition in Norfolk’s, evening of healthy foods for good mood – ‘Blitz the Blues’, on January 25th was a great night. This blog will summarise the presentation that kicked the evening off.
1 in 3 people experience bouts of low mood or depression regularly and January and February are commonly low mood months; low sunlight and daylight, the effects of coughs, colds and flu, Christmas excitement is a dim and distant past etc. So it is very good to seek positive ways to lift your mood and feel good.
The foods we eat not only affect our health but also our mood and in this blog I will give you 6 positive things you can do to support your mood and put a winter smile on your face.
1. Take Out All Refined Carbs.
Sugars, highly processed foods, cakes, pastries, white bread and mounds of white pasta etc are all linked with depression. These foods use up valuable mood enhancing nutrients such as magnesium and the B vitamins, when metabolised in the body. Diagram 1 shows how sugars and the foods listed here cause blood sugar spikes which are followed by blood sugar troughs and troughs equal low mood! Research shows sugary foods are linked to aggression, anxiety and depression.
2. Add Foods Rich in Tryptophan (amino acid broken down from protein)
Good sources of tryptophan include turkey, chicken, eggs, fish, bananas, tofu, walnuts, sunflower seeds and dairy products and tryptophan is converted to serotonin, the neurotransmitter known as the ‘happy hormone’. However, as reported in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience in 2007, there is competition between all the amino acids eaten in a meal and this reduces absorption of any one amino acid, however when eaten with carbohydrates such as oats, potatoes or fruits this can help the nutrients such as tryptophan cross the blood brain barrier.
Neurotransmitters are our systems messenger chemicals and are generated from what we eat.
Bananas, kiwi and sour cherries contain serotonin and along with the many health benefits of these fruits they are worth including regularly in the diet. Vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium and zinc are required for the break down and absorption of tryptophan and therefore consuming vitamin C rich fruits, green leafy vegetables, whole oats and natural seeds on a daily basis to aid conversion, is so important. A good supplement may also be a good addition.
Most serotonin is produced in the gut (gastro-intestinal tract) and therefore a healthy gut; good digestion and assimilation is important for generating serotonin.
3. Add Foods Rich in Phenylalanine and Tyrosine
Good Sources of Phenylalanine and Tyrosine are again chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, pumpkin and sesame seeds, almonds, peanuts, pulses and lentils, avocados, blueberries, spirulina, bananas and oats.
These amino acids are used to produce the neurotransmitter dopamine which influences our reward and pleasure senses, modulates eating habits, regulates behaviour etc.
Again the conversion and uptake are influenced by other components of the diet very similar to tryptophan to serotonin.
4. Add Foods Rich in Glutamine
Good sources are nuts especially almonds, meats , brown rice, bananas, sunflower and sesame seeds, fermented foods, and green tea and this amino acid is converted to the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid). GABA stabilises mood and generates a sense of alert calm, by increasing the alpha brain waves.
As with 2 and 3 the B vitamins and especially B6, magnesium and zinc are important nutrients to ensure conversion and uptake are maximised.
5. Add Good Omega 3 oils
The majority of the brain is made up of fats and if there is not enough Omega 3 (essential fatty acids) nerve messaging will be compromised. Good oils are required for nerve fibre health, good nerve communication systems and a healthy, happy brain
Good sources are oily fish are sardines, mackerel, trout, salmon, herrings, tuna and 2-3 portions a week is ideal. Nuts and seeds especially walnuts, pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds are also really good sources and a tablespoon a day is a good plan.
6. Increase Your Vitamin D – the Sunshine Vitamin
Sunlight is the ideal way to synthesise vitamin D, however low levels through the winter in the UK mean many people are deficient and many people have very little exposure to the sun during the Summer months.
Good sources of vitamin D are eggs and oily fish (as above) and for most of us in the Western hemisphere a good vitamin D supplement is well worthwhile, especially during the winter.
Keep your blood sugar stable by eating wholesome, low glycaemic load foods and have a varied, nutrient dense ‘real food’ diet as close to how nature intended as possible – for your Health and Happiness.
Drink plenty of water and reduce alcohol.
For more help with your health, healthy weight management and a healthy way of eating for life –
Call Jane on 01366347452 or Click here to email
For long term serious depression always consult your medical professional – this information is not a substitute for professional help.