Food for your Mood
(Video version can be found on my Facebook page – Peggy Smith Wellness, May 23rd, 2019)
I have a very distinct memory of the first Uber ride I ever initiated and experienced all on my own. It was after the first day at the Gut Microbiome World Summit in Miami a few months ago. I was on an emotional and mental high from learning so much and hearing from so many amazing doctors and scientists all day long and so when I crawled into the back of the Uber I should have probably given the guy a heads up that I might talk a hundred miles a minute about my amazing day. Because that is what I proceeded to do for sure! He was so kind and asked great questions, one of which totally stopped me in my tracks. This sweet man, who sits in a car and drives folks like me around for 15 hours a day, in a very sincere and thoughtful way asked me what food he needs to eat to be happy.
First I wanted to hug him, but then what I really wanted was to give him an answer.
I choose this conversation in the context of our month dedicated to mental health awareness because honestly, most of us would ask this same question if we thought there was something easy, something quick, something that would really work! We might not all have a mental health diagnosis, but most of us struggle from time to time getting motivated, experiencing joy, being enthusiastic, engaged, happy. And those struggles all too often hold us back from reaching for the next level in our relationships and our careers. These less than ideal mental states keep us from giving our all as it relates to our personal life goals.
Last week we focused on the number one food to avoid to help with mood and brain health – sugar! So this week we will focus on some foods (and nutrients) that have been shown to give our brains (and mood) a boost.
Everyone knows bananas are full of potassium, but what you may not know is that they also contain tryptophan, a brain chemical that helps to regulate mood. Bananas are also a good source of B vitamin folate, and having low levels of the vitamin has been linked to depression.
Flavonoids found in berries have been found to reduce inflammation, and as we talked about last week inflammation in the brain is a bad thing so anything that helps prevent or heal that is something we should add to our plate.
Low levels of zinc have been linked to anxiety so to help keep yourself cool and calm, get your fill of foods rich in zinc, oysters are a great source but so are things like chickpeas.
Dark chocolate is a good source of antioxidants, but it’s also been found to reduce the stress hormone cortisol, aim for 70% and above and organic if you can find it.
Salmon is chock full of omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve mood and fight depression. For optimal breath health, be sure you are getting in enough of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids and not too many of the problematic omega-6 fatty acids.
Spinach contains folic acid, which has been shown to alleviate depression and reduce fatigue. Can anyone say spinach salad with a side of legumes for lunch tomorrow???
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to low-mood depression. Try some mushrooms – they are surprisingly high in vitamin D.
Low magnesium levels are linked to lower energy. Chomp on magneisum rich foods, like beans, or avocado to make sure you don’t fizzle out too quickly each day.
Eating walnuts can improve brain function. Contributing factors include walnuts’ high antioxidant content, vitamins and minerals, and that they contain a large amount of alpha-linolenic acid, a plant based omega-3.
And finally eggs are high in choline, which have been shown to help boost memory. But there’s a catch — choline is found in the yolk, so you might want to rethink those egg white omelettes.
I hope this list helped give you some ideas of a few new things you might want to add to your grocery list to boost your mood! You might have noticed that the list sounds pretty Mediterranean doesn’t it? Those folks really do seem to have this food thing figured out!!
I want to wish each of you a very safe and happy Memorial Day and welcome you to the summer season! I get so excited for all the produce available this time of year!! Don’t underestimate just how happy these whole foods make our brain, and the rest of our body as well!
Until next time friends,
XO – Peggy