It may be no surprise to hear that what you eat can have a direct impact on your mood! While the reasons for our emotions and mood shifts are complex, there is research to suggest that certain foods can lead us to feel happier and have an all-round better sense of wellbeing.
Instant reward foods such as a cream cake can give us a temporary boost, but this is short lived – and can be followed by a slump in mood. Conversely, a diet rich in mood boosting foods every day, can help us to feel generally more upbeat. Key foods are the ones rich in antioxidants, tryptophan (which is used to make serotonin), B vitamins and omega-3 fats. These nutrients all play an important role in mood control, hence why eating foods rich in them can help to boost our mood!
At this time of year as the nights are drawing in, shorter days can leave us a feeling less perky. To give your mood a boost, stock up on these 7 foods:
One of the best sources of selenium around. Our bodies use selenium to help make the thyroid hormone which is vital for regulating our metabolism, so it's very important for our overall energy levels. Not producing the right amount of thyroid hormone can lead to fatigue, low mood and weight gain.
This breakfast favourite is full of nutrients, in particular vitamin B12. This B vitamin helps to make red blood cells and also improve the function of iron within our body. Red blood cells and iron work together to ensure oxygen is transported all around our body efficiently which helps to keep us feeling energised.
Wholegrain foods such as oats are a fantastic source of carbohydrates, which is our bodies preferred fuel source. Choose wholegrains over high sugar foods because the energy from wholegrains is released more slowly into your blood stream. This keeps blood sugar levels stable – which means your energy levels remain stable too.
This oily fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. These types of fats have been linked to a reduced risk of depression, with research showing people who eat more oily fish may be at less risk of low mood and anxiety. Salmon is also a great source of protein, vitamin D and vitamin B12 – other nutrients which also play an important role in mood control.
This leafy green veg is a great source of iron. Iron is hugely important for the transport of oxygen in our cells to all areas of our body. If we're iron deficient, our blood can't transport enough oxygen around our body, which leaves us feeling tired and lacking energy. Ensuring you eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of rich sources of iron can help to ensure you maintain healthy energy levels.
Low in fat and an excellent source of the essential amino acid tryptophan, which helps increase production of serotonin, one of the body's main 'feel good' hormones. Serotonin plays a role in mood control and is believed to help us feel happy and relaxed. As low mood can negatively impact on our overall energy levels and 'get up and go' attitude, a diet that helps maintain happiness and wellbeing levels can only be a good thing.
This popular grain is a fantastic all-rounder. Firstly it's a complete protein, which means it supplies all 9 essential amino acids. Amino acids are important because they play vital roles in many of our body's processes such as energy production and sleep quality, both of which can affect overall energy levels. Quinoa is also a great source of riboflavin and niacin, two B vitamins that help our body release the energy it gets from foods.
Nutritionist Emma Brown (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.