You’re working long hours, the weather is rubbish and the prospect of a holiday (and sunshine) seems very far away. In this scenario, we could all do with a little boost! Sure, an organic facial or beauty treat in store can help. But a simple and cost-effective way to inject some happiness into our lives is through the food we eat.
Try incorporating the following mood-boosting nutrients into your diet:
Selenium: Selenium is required by the body for proper functioning of the thyroid gland, and may help protect against free radical damage and cancer. Studies have shown that people with low selenium levels can suffer from increased depression, irritability, anxiety and tiredness.
Eat: Top up on Brazil nuts, one of the best sources of mineral selenium. Just eating a few Brazil nuts a couple of times a week might help to improve your mood. Try sprinkling on salads or stir-fries, or nibble as a snack combined with a banana.
Omega 3: Studies have shown that eating a diet high in omega-3 helps keep brain cells flexible and enables neurotransmitters (the brain’s messaging chemicals) to work more effectively. On the contrary, a lack of omega-3 can render you more susceptible to depression and mood swings. This is due to the fact that about 60 per cent of the dry weight of the brain is fat, with about 30 per cent of that in the form of omega-3: so the saying ‘eating fish makes you smarter’ isn’t unfounded.
Eat: Plenty of oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and some grass fed organic lamb if you can get it. Flaxseeds, walnuts and kidney beans are also high in omega-3.
Vitamin B: Vitamin B-12, is one of eight B vitamins that humans need in their diet as they help regulate the metabolism of all body cells. Vitamin B-12 and other B vitamins such as B-6, B-3 and folate, also play a role in producing brain chemicals that affect mood and other brain functions. As such, low levels B vitamins may be linked to a low mood.
Eat: Spinach and greens such as kale, broccoli and asparagus. Enjoy them in salad, steamed or with stir-fries and soups to soak up on vitamin B’s benefits. Or try brewers’ yeast or brown rice.
Trytophan: The body uses the amino acid tryptophan to make serotonin – one of the most important neurotransmitters affecting mood – as well as melatonin, which helps regulate sleep. Because of its ability to raise serotonin levels, tryptophan has been used in the treatment of a variety of conditions, such as insomnia, depression and anxiety.
Eat: Bananas, as they contain tryptophan and the amino acid tyrosine, which is used by the body as one of the building blocks in process involved in making the hormone adrenaline (or for the long version – tyrosine is converted to l-dopa by the enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase (TH). TH is the rate-limiting enzyme involved in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine can then be converted into the noradrenaline and adrenaline). Bananas are also rich in potassium, which is important in the transmission of nerve impulses, heart and rhythm and muscle function. Another fantastic source of trytophan is turkey, which is extremely versatile to incorporate into your diet.