Remember the old “chicken soup” remedy? Well turns out that’s not just an old wives tale… Accredited practicing dietitian, Emma Williams, dishes up the top mood boosting foods.
If you want to reduce stress, ease anxiety and bust those blues – these mood booster foods will give you that bit of extra oomph a lot of us need this time of year.
1. Oily Fish
Fish is good food for the brain, so include these in your summer spreads. Oily fish are high in omega 3 amino acids. These encourage the release of our ‘feel good’ hormone serotonin and the ‘reward’ hormone dopamine, which the brain releases in response to pleasurable experiences. The best types to include in your diet include: Salmon, Mackerel and Tuna.
Oysters have many benefits when it comes to mental health. They are packed full of trace nutrients that are important in balancing your mood. They contain zinc, iodine and selenium – elements that are vital to keeping your thyroid (your body’s master mood regulator) on track. Oysters also contain the amino acid tyrosine, which your brain uses to produce the chemicals needed to enhance mental function and elevate your mood.
3. Lean white meat – Chicken and Turkey
Lean poultry, along with oysters, also contains tyrosine, which can help reduce symptoms of depression and help you avoid feeling blue in the first place.Chicken and turkey (breasts in particular) also help increase your intake of the amino acid tryptophan. The body uses tryptophan to make serotonin – one of the most important neurotransmitters when it comes to mood. It also aids in the development of melatonin, one of the hormones which regulates sleep. In addition, white meat is jam-packed with iron, which fights fatigue and keeps energy levels elevated.
4. Probiotic water
In our sweltering Australian heat, chronic low fluid intake is a common, but often overlooked, cause of crankiness, mood swings and fatigue. When we’re dehydrated, it can really affect our ability to concentrate. Even the smallest degree of water loss can impair our physical and mental well-being. While we don’t recommend gulping two litres of probiotic water for the whole day, adding probiotic water to your list of liquids could help you reach your daily fluid quota. Plus, according to a recent study conducted in the Netherlands, probiotics (specifically the lactobacillus casei strand from in PERKii) may have a role in improving mood and may be useful in fighting anxiety and depression.
Bananas are a conveniently packaged blues buster. Bananas contain the amino acid tryptophan as well as vitamins A, B6 and C, fiber, potassium, phosphorous, iron and carbohydrates. Carbs aid in the absorption of tryptophan in the brain, while vitamin B6 helps convert the tryptophan into the mood-lifting hormone serotonin. This helps to boost your mood and (as mentioned above) also aids sleep!
6. Multi-grain or wholemeal carbohydrates
Like Bananas, a high carbohydrate, low protein and low fat snack such as an apple bran muffin allows tryptophan to flood your brain, where it morphs into serotonin and curbs food cravings. If uninhibited by the presence of protein or fat, a mood boost can be felt within as little as half an hour.
There’s a reason why chocolate always seems to make things better (seriously!). A small square of dark chocolate causes the brain to release endorphins and boost serotonin levels. Skip the sugary milk chocolate blends and go directly for the darkest organic (highest percentage of cocoa) chocolate you can.