Eat yourself happy

Posted on: 09 August 2016 by 50connect editorial

What we're eating is having a direct effect on our mood. Expert nutritionists have shared with 50connect the top 10 foods that will have you smiling from ear to ear

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What we put into our bodies can have a direct effect on our mood. After a stressful day in the office, or the unpredictable British weather dampening summer plans, we seek comfort in the smaller things like a perfectly brewed cup of tea or a delicious meal. There is such a thing, after all, as eating yourself happy! Expert nutritionists have shared with 50connect their top 10 foods that will instantly boost your mood and will induce a smile come rain or shine.

These mood-boosting foods are common and are easily incorporated into your daily diet - and will have you smiling from ear to ear in no time!

1. Eggs

Scrambled, boiled or poached for breakfast, lunch or dinner? “Eggs are a great source of protein, which, when broken down in the body, make amino acids. These are then used to make neurotransmitters to help keep our mood balanced,” says Shona Wilkinson, Nutritionist at www.superfooduk.com

2. Nuts and seeds

Feeling peckish? “Snack on nuts or seeds as these are a source of protein; they are also broken down by the body to make amino acids and will keep our mind and mood balanced,” explains Shona.

3. Dark chocolate

Yes, chocolate! “New research has shown that eating a square of dark chocolate a day can relieve emotional stress. It’s the high quantity of antioxidants called flavones, which are responsible for these positive effects. Stick with dark, organic, unprocessed chocolate for maximum benefits,” says Lily Soutter, Nutritionist at www.lilysoutternutrition.com

4. Natural yoghurt

We’ve heard that probiotics are good for the gut, but they make us happy too. “Our gut is now referred to as our second brain,” explains Lily. “90% of serotonin is located within our gut, with only 10% in the brain. Our gut is jam-packed full of bacteria, which has a strong positive influence on serotonin production,” explains Nutritionist Cassandra Burns.

5. Fish

Want that Friday feeling? Have a fishy Friday feast! “Healthy fats, especially those found in fish oils called omega 3s are essential for brain health and mood. Studies have shown that an increase of omega 3 fats in blood levels correlate to an increase in serotonin,” says Lilly. Her recommendations are oily fish such as wild salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines and anchovies.

6. Bananas

Serotonin is more commonly known as the happy hormone, so fill yourself up on the foods that are rich in it, such as bananas. “By boosting serotonin, we can ultimately boost our mood,” says Lily. If Bananas aren’t right for you, then Kiwis, plums, tomatoes and walnuts are also good alternatives.

7. Turkey

Turkeys are not just for Christmas! “Your body makes serotonin from an amino acid called Tryptophan, which is an important amino acid for depression,” explains Dr Marilyn Glenville. Tryptophan occurs naturally in turkey, dairy products, dried dates and soya, to name but a few. If you want an extra happiness boost, think about how you eat these foods. “Consuming a small amount of carbohydrates with tryptophan-rich foods can increase the absorption rate and conversion to serotonin,” recommends Lily.

8. Oats 

Breakfast is arguably the most important meal of the day, waking up with a warming bowl of porridge can really brighten your day - thanks to the vitamin B12 hit it provides. “Vitamin B12 and other B vitamins are known to play a role in producing and stabilizing mood-boosting brain chemicals. An adequate intake is vital for that feel good factor,” advises Lily.

9. Cinnamon

It can be all too tempting to dig into the sweet drawer when morale is low but comfort foods are actually having a negative effect on our mood. They only release a temporary quick fix, and stimulate further cravings. Instead of the chocolate, why not sprinkle a teaspoon of cinnamon onto food, or try cinnamon tea, Lily reasons why: “Cinnamon helps to keep our blood sugar levels balanced; this minimizes insulin spikes which can lead to hunger and further carbohydrate cravings.”

10. Bonus tip: Sip on a green tea with your food

Could tea could be the answer to those caffeine withdrawals we are all too familiar with? “Green tea is an excellent healthy mood booster. It contains some caffeine, which gives you a bit of a lift, but also contains the amino acid theanine, which has a relaxing effect and may help to relieve anxiety and mental stress,” explains Shona.

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