How food can improve your mood

Food can improve your mood

During times of uncertainty, it is important to keep a balanced and healthy diet to help with mental health and overall mood. This is more relevant than ever with the current pandemic that we are facing. Due to restrictions and lockdowns many of us have been confined to the four corners of our own homes. This has led to an increase in emotional overeating and a decrease in physical activity. It is important to fuel your body with food that will improve your mood. 

How bad food habits can affect your mood 

It has been proven that a healthy diet with good food can improve your mood and contribute to boosting your overall wellbeing and mental health. Whereas, a poor diet  goes hand-in-hand with poor mental health. With everything going on in the world right now it is easy to slip into bad habits. According to www.Healthservice.hse.ie eating a healthy diet is vital to our energy and mental wellbeing during the pandemic.  So how can food really improve your mood? 

The Irish diet is one that is highly westernised. It contains a lot of highly processed, saturated fatty foods. According to www.Heath.harvard.edu, multiple studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function. This can also worsen mood disorders such as depression. To aid in battling low moods throughout the pandemic it is important to avoid processed sugary foods when possible. This will help boost your mood and wellbeing. According to www.Mind.org.uk  improving your eating habits can have many benefits. For example improved mood, more energy and clearer thinking.

A nutritionists advice to improving your mood

According to Irish nutritionist Gaye Godkin, the brain is a fatty organ. This means it is highly volatile to the fats your body is taking in. The typical Irish diet is one that consists of high trans fats or simply bad fats which are detrimental to the brain. Overall bad fats equal bad brain health and ultimately bad moods. Omega 3 fatty acids are great for the brain as 33% of the brain is made up of omega 3’s.

The Irish diet also consists of ultra-processed carbohydrate foods. These foods rapidly fuel the brain with energy that it is not able to handle. Healthy fats are very important for brain function. Foods like oily fish and nuts are great for brain health and improved mood. Godkin further states that if the gut is unhealthy it can drastically affect the mental state and lead to depression. A healthy gut is vital to feeling happier. If the gut isn’t working well you are more likely to be depressed. The gut produces the main happy hormone serotonin. If you are eating a diet that consists of ultra-processed foods you are damaging the gut bacteria that is producing serotonin in your body.

Beneficial diets

Although one diet does not fit all a recommended diet from Godkin is the Mediterranean diet. This diet contains plenty of healthy fats like olive oil and avocado.  A diet with lots of coloured vegetables is also wonderful for improving your physical and mental health. Both the Mediterranean and Nordic diet feature anti-inflammatory foods for the gut. This suggests that diets which are high in plant-based food and fish may decrease the risks of ill mental health. According to Godkin, a great food which works for both gut health and mood boosting is natural live yogurt. Alternatively foods which are labelled low fat or nonfat are harmful for brain health, so these products should be avoided if you are aiming for an improved  mood.

Which foods actually help increase your mood

Foods such as fish, nuts, and natural yogurt are all highly beneficial. Healthy unprocessed fats which are heavily featured in the Mediterranean diet help promote a healthy gut and an elevated mood. Foods high in fiber such as whole grain carbohydrates are also great. It is important to never restrict yourself when it comes to food. Always aim to have a balanced healthy breakfast. According to www.Webmd.com, studies have shown that having a balanced breakfast can lead to better memory , improved mood, and feelings of calmness. Avoid skipping this meal. 

It is important to not beat yourself up for struggling to eat well during the pandemic. It’s okay to treat yourself every now and again. If you are really craving an unhealthy snack  have it, but remember everything in moderation. Eating healthier foods will improve not just mood, it also benefits mental health and overall wellbeing especially in times of uncertainty.

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Cliona Perrick

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