Did you know that the foods you eat can impact your mood? Serotonin is a chemical that can stabilise mood, assist with sleep and digestion and contribute to feelings of happiness. Around 90% of the serotonin in our bodies is produced in your gastrointestinal tract, which is why it is important to keep our ‘good bacteria’ in the gut happy by feeding it appropriate foods. Let’s talk about how we can better support this link between gut health, mood and food.
What foods support gut bacteria and mood
1. HIGH FIBRE FOODS
These include wholegrains, fruits and vegetables. Foods rich in resistant starch are the particular star here!
2. PROBIOTIC FOODS
Think of fermented foods like yoghurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, miso and more.
3. PLANT-BASED FOODS
These have many health benefits and include lentils, legumes, vegetables, nuts and seeds. These are all high in antioxidants and fibre which have been linked to enhanced mood. They are also high in B vitamins which your body requires for energy production.
4. OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, trout and tuna. Omega-3 fatty acids assist with the release of serotonin, essentially helping the happy hormone work more efficiently.
These include foods such as oats, rye, brown rice, and wholemeal bread. These nutritious foods contain the amino acid tryptophan, which the body requires to produce serotonin. Tryptophan also has an important role when it comes to getting to sleep.
How improve your diet for better mood and gut health
Improve your diet by adding in, not taking away! Rather than focusing on the foods that you need to reduce in your diet, why not focus on all the amazing foods that you can include in your diet? Find ways to include these foods in your favourite meals such as adding beans and lentils to mince dishes and grating vegetables into pasta sauces. This isn’t to say you can’t enjoy your favourite foods in moderation, as food is there to be enjoyed!
Consuming more plant-based wholefoods makes your body feel good, not only mentally but physically as well. These foods have been shown to have short- and long-term benefits including increased energy, reduced fatigue and aid in weight loss, just to name a few. Increasing your consumption of plant foods will make you feel more energised and satisfied immediately.
If we are thinking about more long-term health benefits associated with eating more plant foods, the list is nearly endless. It includes the reduced risk of conditions and diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. During stressful times it can be tempting to reach for more comfort foods, but the foods we have suggested above will help you feel better and happier in the long run. So why not start to include these in your meals today!
Whether it’s for gut health, mental health or both, book an appointment with one of the dietitians at my new telehealth clinic, Verde Nutrition Co, today!