Change Your Food to Change Your Mood

by Trace on June 1, 2010

A survey of 200 people in England reported that 88 percent found that changing their diet improved their mental health. Survey conducted by the “Food and Mood Project”, Amanda Geary, reported on BBC Health.

JulieTraceWebI interviewed Julie Wood RN, GDHSc(NM), GDHSc(OH), Dip Aroma  IAAMA 766

Nutrition Medicine Practitioner based on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia for my book How To Overcome Stress Naturally (Chapter 5).

How many of us know the relationship between food and mood?

There are three main chemical neurotransmitters in the brain which help send messages from one cell to the next. They are dopamine, noradrenalin and serotonin.

alert.mentalDopamine and Noradrenalin are the brain chemicals that keep us alert: they have a tendency to make us think more quickly and they increase motivation, mental acuity and productivity.

Serotonin on the other hand is the calming brain chemical: it produces a relaxed, more focused, less anxious, less stressed, more euphoric feeling.RelaxOnGrass.#7148564

How does food affect mood?

What we eat has an influence on our brain chemicals (neurotransmitters, ie serotonin, dopamine and acetylcholine) which influences the way we think, feel and behave.

Here are 5 examples:

  • Blood sugar level: Fluctuations are associated with changes in mood and energy, and are affected by what we eat.
  • Artificial colouring/flavouring: There can be abnormal behaviour reactions to Red drinkartificial chemicals in foods, such as artificial colourings and flavourings.
  • Vitamins/Minerals: Low levels of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids can affect mental health, with some symptoms associated with particular nutritional deficiencies. For example, links have been demonstrated between low levels of certain B-vitamins and symptoms of schizophrenia, low levels of the mineral zinc and eating disorders, and low levels of omega-3 oils and depression.
  • Toxins: A build-up of toxins from the environment, such as lead from traffic pollution or mercury from leaky amalgam fillings, can also affect the proper functioning of the body and brain.
  • Poor digestion: Leading to an accumulation of undigested foods in the gut can result in poor absorption of nutrients and a build up of toxins or malabsorption in the bowel leading to bowel dysbiosis “Leaky gut”. Our bowel also has a large number of neurotransmitter receptors and these can be affected. Toxins can also escape the bowel and end up in the brain interfering with the neurotransmitters in the brain.

Choosing the right foods

Protein: Protein encourages the production of dopamine and noradrenalin, which produces alertness, mental energy and faster reaction time. The effects of eating protein last about 2 – 3 hours.

ie Fish, sardines, chicken, turkey, lean red meat, oystersFruitVegies.#4461830

Vegetable: artichokes, broccoli, garlic, onion, tomato,spinach, sweet potato
Fruits: apricots, avocado, banana, blueberry, mango

Nuts & Seeds: Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, almonds, brazil nutsSpices: Black Pepper, Cayenne Pepper, Chili pepper, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mustard seeds, turmeric.

7 Tips to Overcome Stress Naturally

  1. Change your diet, just the simple things.
  2. Take ten minutes and sit down and eat lunch. Take the time to do that.
  3. Meditation – a simple 10 minute “time out” peace & quiet for yourself.
  4. Walk, go for a walk, along the river, down the beach, or even just around the shopping centre.
  5. Go and have a coffee with somebody, and simply have a chat. CoffeeChocolate
  6. Aromatherapy. Burn some aromatherapy oils or have a massage, a foot massage. It starts to lift the spirit.
  7. Make the stressful situation a challenge. Look at how you can get out of it, or change it, or what can I do rather than being a victim in it.

In my next article more on Choosing the Right Foods to Change your Mood.

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