Nourish - 10 Natural Mood Boosters To A Happier You
Do you ever just wake up feeling a bit blah? Or perhaps that perk in your step has walked off somewhere else and you’re feeling more flat footed?
Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.
Do you want the good news? You can quite literally eat your way to a brighter, clearer, more energised, mood boosted you by incorporating these 10 Natural Mood Boosters.
But First –
There are two things I will mention a lot during this blog that you should know about.
One is tryptophan, the other, serotonin. These two are very important when you’re working on improving your mood.
So what are they?
L-Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, meaning it must come from your diet as it is not made in the body. It is involved in the production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for the feeling of happiness, promoting relaxation and sleep.
It is found in a variety of foods, more of which you will read about later on.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter– a type of chemical that relays messages within the brain and body. It’s known for triggering feelings of happiness and is involved in regulating mood, appetite, memory, sexual behaviour, and sleep.
Serotonin can mainly be found in the gastrointestinal tract and in the central nervous system.
So let’s get to it! Here are my 10 Natural Mood Boosters To A Happier You
No. 1 – Healthy Fats
The brain is made up of about 60% fat and to operate optimally, it needs to be fed the right kinds of fat.
What our brains really want are omega-3 and 6 fats, also known as essential fatty acids because your body cannot produce these fats themselves, they must be found from food sources.
Your body has a good love affair with these essential fatty acids because the benefits are almost endless!
Essential fatty acids both brighten your mood and improve your cognitive functioning and alertness, plus they reduce inflammation, reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases, boost energy levels and are essential for a healthy pregnancy.
Where do I get these fats from in my diet?
Organic nuts and seeds including flax, chia, hemp and pumpkin seeds, walnuts, as well as lots of green leafy greens, supply both omega-3 and omega-6.
Wild fish, such as salmon or rainbow trout are also a fantastic source and are key players in boosting mood and happiness!
Oily fish such as mackerel and sardines are also good, just make sure to have variety so you do not load yourself up on heavy metals (e.g mercury) often found in fish.
To avoid this risk, or just to make sure you’re really getting a good boost of these beneficial oils, try a high-quality fish oil such as Viridian Scandinavian Rainbow Trout Oil or an Algae supplements if your vegan.
No. 2 – B vitamins
By increasing the amount of B vitamins in your diet, you may begin to notice some positive changes in your mood and experience a feeling of prolonged happiness.
Low levels of B group vitamins have been shown to contribute to low mood so if you’re having mood swings, feeling irritable or struggling with brain fog you may be lacking in these vital vitamins.
Where do I get these from in my diet?
Some excellent food sources that are rich in B vitamins are dark green leafy veg, nuts and seeds, brown rice, oats, bananas, almonds, avocadoes, nutritional yeast, eggs, seafood, lean meat and fish.
Also look out for foods rich in folate and B6, such as spinach and sunflower seeds which are excellent mood boosters and key players in the production of serotonin.
Alternatively you could take a good B complex vitamin to whack up your levels if you’re under a lot of stress. B vitamins are used up very quickly during stress so it’s a good idea to replenish them.
Note also that B vitamins are destroyed by things like sugar, alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine!
No. 3 – Fermented Foods
Did you know that most of your body’s serotonin (the chemical responsible for making you feel happy) is found in the gut, and not the brain?!
This shows a strong link between the gut and the brain, and the type and amount of bacteria in your digestive tract really does impact your mood and how you feel, therefore it is important to nurture your intestines.
Low serotonin levels can lead to sadness and depression. This just highlights the importance of making sure your intestines are full of “good” bacteria from good fermented foods or supplements.
Fermented foods feed the healthy bacteria in our digestive system and are essential for intestinal health, so eat up!
Where do I get these fats from in my diet?
Try including raw sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir (coconut water or dairy), tempeh, miso and kombucha.
These foods repopulate your good bacteria in your gut, helping to make a happy healthy gut, a perfect home for serotonin and ultimately a happy you! Check out this blog on The Benefits of Vegetable Fermentation plus a recipe for sauerkraut.
No. 4 – Greens
If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll know I love my greens!
Well, when it comes to feeling good, this one hits the jackpot.
Dark green veggies, such as collard greens, chard, kale and spinach are rich sources of B vitamins, healthy fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals. They are a fantastic source of magnesium too, known for its calming effects and positive effect on mood.
Thanks to the nutrients found in greens, they’re great at converting tryptophan and tyrosine amino acids to serotonin and dopamine – the neurotransmitters responsible for making us feel joyful.
So what are you waiting for? Eat your greens!
How can I get more greens in my diet?
Start your day with a green smoothie, have a green juice mid-day, have a gorgeous green salad with your lunch or dinner, add your leaves to soups or stews, steam them and drizzle them with a delicious dressing, mix them into dips or spreads, the options are endless!
No. 5 – Spirulina
Spirulina is a blue-green microscopic algae with a full spectrum of nutrients that are highly nourishing to the body, containing vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, amino acids, chlorophyll and even some essential fatty acids. It even contains the precursor to serotonin, tryptophan to help with your boosting your happiness.
Spirulina contains iron, and B6 which help with both immune, brain and cognitive function, as well as containing high levels of chlorophyll which help with cleansing, detoxing and energy levels. Spirulina is known to absorb heavy metals and toxins from the body and is overall supportive to the body.
On a biochemical level, spirulina is happiness hothouse!
How do I add spirulina to my diet?
Spirulina is easy to add to any diet by just mixing a teaspoon into water or juice, or blending it up into a smoothie. It can also be added to raw desserts, raw crackers, protein balls or mixed into porridge.
Alternatively, get your hands on some spirulina tablets if you can’t handle the distinctive flavour of the powder.
No. 6 – Cacao
There’s a good reason why we often turn to chocolate when our mood is taking a turn in the wrong direction.
That’s because cacao is renowned for its release of endorphins (the very same chemical released when we fall in love!) Who doesn’t want that feeling when they’re a little down?! (Or at any time come to think of it..!)
Cacao is also a haven of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It has even been shown to relax the walls of blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and improving circulation.
Cacao one of the world’s most potent sources of magnesium, a mineral shown to help alleviate sadness, fatigue, irritation and stress, as well as boosting energy levels.
But remember, I’m not talking about the processed milk and sugar filled stuff. I’m talking about the real deal. The raw cacao in its natural state.
No. 7 – Nuts and Seeds
A powerhouse of mood elevating omega 3’s, B vitamins and tryptophan.
They are bursting with vitamins and minerals, all needed to work hand-in-hand in your body to provide it with everything it needs to function at its best.
The combination of goodness in just a handful of nuts and seeds a day can help with stress, anxiety, cardiovascular health, libido, mood, skin health, gut health and more.
How do I add these into my diet?
Add nuts and seeds to smoothies, breakfast cereals, eat as a snack, toast them and sprinkle over salads or soups or even grind them to a flour and bake with them!
You can blend your choice of nut with water and a sweetener of choice and make a nut milk to have over you cereal. (Though remember to strain the liquid to remove the pulp if you want silky liquid-y goodness that resembles milk.)
No. 8 – Vitamin D
Boosting your vitamin D levels can really help improve mood by enhancing the production serotonin.
Vitamin D comes from sunlight (though remember sun cream blocks the ability of vitamin D absorption so it’s good to get 5-15 minutes of sunshine on your bare skin whenever you can.)
Vitamin D also can be found in foods such as oily fish, mushrooms and fortified foods.
It can be worth taking a high-quality vitamin D supplement all through the year, though especially throughout winter.
Those prone to SAD (seasonal affective disorder, this one is a must have!)
No. 9 – Maca Root Powder
One of my all-time favourite superfoods.
Maca is a root vegetable that grows in the Peruvian Andes at very high altitudes. It is most commonly used to help with mood, hormone balancing, stamina, energy, vitality, sexual function and fertility.
By increasing oxygen levels in the blood, maca helps with stamina and vitality. It also works as an adaptogen, helping one to cope with stress both physical and mental.
It has also been shown to improve memory by improving the function of neurotransmitters.
Maca is easy to digest and considered naturally rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc, and contains 10% high-quality protein.
How do I add maca into my diet?
Maca can be added to smoothies, porridge, desserts (it goes well with cacao) muesli, puddings, or even over main meals such as stew or curry (just make sure you sprinkle it once the food has cooled slightly so as not damage the maca via excess heat)
No. 10 – Bananas
Bananas are my favourite fruit. They are choc-full of vitamin B6, tryptophan and magnesium to relieve stress whilst fuelling me sufficiently through my morning.
They also contain potassium, iron and fibre. What’s not to love?
How do I add them to my diet?
Freeze them in halves and add 1-2 pieces to your smoothies to give a cold and creamy texture.
Chop up into breakfast cereals, or eat as they are.
Avoid foods that are processed, refined, contain bucket loads of white sugar, addictive’s or have a list of ingredients you can’t pronounce.
These ‘foods’ are not worth your happiness and they just end up making us snappy, moody, weepy and perk-less!
If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me via our Facebook page!
*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention
** Also note though that if you’re not feeling well and think you may be suffering from depression, do not rely on these foods alone and seek professional advice
Photo Credit: www.synergynatural.com and http://www.paleofoodscompany.com/ and The Cultured Food Company