Top mood boosting foods
The link between the gut and the brain is incredibly strong. The gut and brain are in constant communication and therefore when your gut isn’t happy, this can affect your mood and mental health.
Eating the right foods can help to keep your gut in top shape and therefore help to enhance your mood and mental health.
So, what does the science say? Which foods are best for boosting your mood?
- Dark chocolate – dark chocolate (preferably over 70% coca solids) is rich in flavonoids and other compounds that may increase feel-good chemicals in the brain. Flavonoids have been shown to increase blood flow to the brain, reduce inflammation and even boost brain health. All of this can lead to a more balanced and regulated mood.
- Fermented foods – fermented foods are great as they contain probiotics (good gut bacteria) to support gut health, and consequently brain health. Fermented foods include things like kimchi, sauerkraut, live yoghurt and kombucha. Up to 90% of serotonin (the happy hormone) is produced in the gut and therefore by providing your gut with probiotics, it will help boost the levels of serotonin and increase your mood.
- Prebiotic foods – prebiotic foods such as green bananas and oats are essentially food for our good gut bacteria. To keep our good gut bugs happy and healthy, they need a decent supply of prebiotic foods and therefore can support our gut health and overall wellbeing.
- Nuts and seeds – nuts and seeds are rich in nutrients such as tryptophan, zinc and selenium. All these nutrients have been shown to support brain function and potentially lower the risk of depression.
- Apple cider vinegar – drinking one or two tbsp of ACV before a meal can help to break down proteins into amino acids. This then creates tryptophan which plays a critical role in the release of serotonin. Higher levels of serotonin is linked to an increase in mood.
- Oily fish – fatty fish like salmon are rich in omega 3 fatty acids which have been linked to lowered levels of depression. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential fats that must be obtained through diet as our bodies can’t produce them on their own.
MOOD BOOSTING RECIPE:
TIME: 20 mins
For the salad:
- 250g parsnip
- 375-400g cooked lentils
- 1 lettuce
- 50g organic soft cheese, or vegan cheese
- 100g walnut
For the sauce:
- 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ tbsp ACV (apple cider vinegar)
- 1 ½ tbsp of Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp honey
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cut the parsnip into 3cm chunks and toss with olive oil in a large roasting tin, seasoning well. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring halfway. Place the walnut in a smaller roasting tin and put in the oven for the final 4-5 minutes of the cooking time.
- Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients. Drain the lentils and toss them into the dressing.
- Clean and cut the lettuce, then toss through the lentils, mix well, and arrange in a large bowl.
- When the salad is ready, spoon the dressing over it and top with the chunks of delicious Cotton white cheese, a dash of black pepper – or any herbs like tarragon, or parsley – and a final squeeze of lemon.
Note: The Dijon-honey dressing will store in your fridge for up to a week or more and can be used to add flavour to salad, on a toast, and an earthy roast vegetables.