Happiness On A Plate

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A good mood is determined by many aspects, but what’s going on within us physiologically and chemically determines whether or not we’re even able to feel positive. The ability for our brain to function properly, our cells to communicate productively, our oxygen levels to remain balanced, and our hormones to stay in check basically decides whether or not we’ll have a good day today….

We may see certain situations as stressful, and others as relaxing. We may get irritated by certain people and are fond of others – but really, it’s not the situations or the people that decide our reaction, it’s us. Our perspective of each person and each situation determines our reaction, our outlook and ultimately our mood.

So, want to know how to boost your mood levels? Start with choosing your foods wisely… We are what we eat, so whatever we decide to fuel ourselves with is going to effect us in a big way.

Eat, drink & be merry….

Avocado: Good fats are vital for good brain health. Our brains are in fact made up of 70% fat! And when our brains function properly, we tend to be able to think clearly and more positively. A diet which completely cuts out fat – especially omega 3 and omega 6, actually has a risk of causing depression, as the brain needs these fats in order to produce hormones which keep our mood balanced.

Coconut: Again, the healthy saturated fats found in coconuts help to improve brain function and communication between cells by providing the cells with cushioning and lining so the nerve information can travel efficiently between them.

Coconut oil has also been proven to help cure and prevent hypothyroidism, a case in which the thyroid’s function is lower than it should be for a healthy body and mind. To find out more about hypothyroidism and curing an imbalanced thyroid – click HERE.

Brazil nuts: Containing high amounts of selenium, brazil nuts also improve hair and nail condition. A deficiency of selenium can cause fatigue and muscle weakness, and it only takes a very small amount of the nut to make a difference. (Around 3 brazil nuts a day actually provides us with as much selenium as we need!)

Walnuts: The doctrine of signatures points out the link between walnuts and the brain due to the uncanny visual likeness between the two (doctrine of signatures). It’s down to the omega 3 fats again in walnuts that helps to boost our mood. Other fantastic sources of Omega 3s include chia and flax seeds. For a tasty chia seed recipe, click HERE.

Dark chocolate: Yes, here’s an excuse to eat chocolate! The antioxidants in dark chocolate (sorry, not sugary milk, or white chocolate…) help to reduce stress levels, while compounds like theobromine and phenylethyamine encourage a good mood. If you can get your hands on it – raw chocolate is known to be a pretty effective stimulant and aids in raising our mood by a long way. For a feel good raw chocolate recipes, click HERE.

Beans: Not only do they provide long lasting energy and plenty of fibre, but beans (especially black eyes beans), contain high levels of the beneficial nutrient folate. Folate is a type of B vitamin (specifically, vitamin B9) found in many foods. A deficiency in this vitamin can cause fatigue, irritability, weakness, headaches, heart palpitations, and can als be a cause of anemia. It is also very well known that a lack of folate is a big cause of depression. Some foods are labelled as ‘enriched’ with folate, but it’s always best to obtain vitamins from natural, whole foods. Lentils, spinach, asparagus and broccoli also contain high levels of folate. For a recipe including lentils and other brilliantly beneficial herbs and spices, click HERE.

Hemp: This absolute wonder food can help reduce signs of depression and anxiety, and the fatty acids have also been shown to prevent neurological diseases such as Parkinsons and Alzheimers. Hemp seeds can easily be added to smoothies, porridge, cereal, salads and soups for a powerful dose of nutrients. For a high-protein hemp-filled chocolatey treat recipe, click HERE.

Dark leafy greens: Not only does eating your greens provide high levels of antioxidants and cleansing cholophyl – they also contain good amounts of B vitamins, which contribute to good energy and mood levels. Serve THIS rice salad with a salad of leafy greens for an energising and satisfying lunch or dinner.

Bananas: These handy and filling fruits contain high levels of tryptophan – the precursor to the mood boosting neurotransmitter serotonin. They’re also brilliant for boosting energy levels, calming the nervous system, and preventing cramps and muscular fatigue. Other foods with high levels of tryptophan include mushrooms, lentils and beans and pumpkin and sesame seeds.

Chilli peppers: Capsican, the property which gives chillis their heat, does more than just add a kick to each meal, it’s also an extremely healing element. Capsican can help reduce physical pain within the body (after you’re over the initial spicy-ness of course!), and it can also stimulate the release of endorphins (those happy, feel-good hormones).

What to avoid: The bad news? Limit caffeine and alcohol…. The good news? You won’t have those mood swings and energy crashes that usually accompany these substances. While caffeine can be good for us in moderation, it’s not the best way to boost your energy, mood or brain power sustainably. Alcohol too may seem like the key to a good time, but in reality it acts as a depressant, and we all know a hangover isn’t the best feeling in the world….

Replace your coffee gradually with green tea – not only will the modest amount of natural caffeine still give you a lift, it also helps us remain calm, and is brilliant for detoxifying and cleaning our systems.

If you’re looking for just one more vitamin to boost your mood, then get outside in the sunshine! Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to low moods, as one of the roles of this vitamin is helping in the production of that ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter serotonin. Being outside with nature and breathing in some fresh air this Summer will also be a whole lot more beneficial on every level than sitting indoors glued to a computer screen, so now you’ve read this – grab a mood boosting snack and get outside!

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