The Top Nutrients for Lifting Mood and Increasing Wellness
It’s important to look at our nutritional support for a strong immune system, prevent nutritional deficiencies and to help balance mood.
Vitamin D is vital for the production of serotonin, a hormone which makes us feel happy, and melatonin, our sleep hormone, which helps us achieve deep restorative sleep. Eggs, oily fish, mushrooms and tomatoes are good sources of Vitamin D but supplementation can be useful.
Vitamins K2 and A are also important to ensure your fat-soluble vitamins are balanced and can be utilised properly. Including green leafy vegetables, such as kale, chard, spinach and broccoli, and orange vegetables, such as carrot, squash, sweet potato and pumpkin will cover your needs. Carbohydrates found in these root vegetables are good mood food so avoid going low-carb over the winter months.
Good gut health is also essential for neurotransmitter production and balancing hormones so be sure to incorporate fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and kefir into your daily diet or supplement with a well-researched probiotic.
Top up on B vitamins, such as B12, B6 and folate found in eggs, bananas, spinach, parsley, liver, beef, lamb, tuna and salmon. These play a role in lowering homocysteine in the body, which, if raised, can lower mood amongst other negative health effects.
Lastly, lifestyle factors such as getting good sleep, regular exposure to sunshine, daily movement, and being around friends will play a huge role in regulating mood.
Foods to Nourish Body and Mind
How, when, and most importantly, why we eat all contribute to our state of health and ultimately our state of mind. We must become aware of how to nourish our bodies and our minds through the foods we eat.
Here are a few food tips to better your mental health.
- Increase your intake of Omega-3. These essential fatty acids are not naturally made by our bodies and so must be acquired from food. They are proven to improve brain function and overall health. Abundant sources of omega-3s include flax seeds, walnuts and oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring. If diet is restricted, a quality fish oil (e.g. Nordic Naturals) can be used to supplement. However, do ask at your local health shop if they are suitable for you.
- Eat more tryptophan-rich foods. They will give you that “feel good factor” as tryptophan converts to serotonin in our bodies. And serotonin is our “happy” hormone! Serotonin then converts to melatonin which improves sleep, and thus mental health. Tryptophan rich foods include turkey, cottage cheese, bananas and eggs.
- Fill your diet with magnesium rich foods. Magnesium helps your muscles to relax. High amounts of magnesium can be found in green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, cashews, and quinoa.
- Make sure you are getting adequate amounts of B vitamins from your diet. A variety of B vitamins are found in green vegetables, oily fish, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, eggs, bananas and whole grains.
- Stay hydrated with plenty of water throughout your day.
Lucy Drennan Graduated in Nutritional Therapy from the College of Naturopathic Medicine. CNM trains students for careers in a range of natural therapies, including Naturopathic Nutrition, Herbal Medicine, Acupuncture and Naturopathy. There are CNM colleges across Ireland, the UK, and in the US. www.naturopathy.ie