When it comes to improving mood, a holistic approach is best. Physical activity, nourishing foods, social support, behavioural therapies such as mindfulness and finding meaning and purpose have all been scientifically shown to support healthy mood.
Diet can help correct nutritional imbalances that affect mood and there are some tasty foods that can help!
Cocoa - Cocoa powder and chocolate contain flavonoids and antioxidants which have beneficial effects on the brain. The most abundant flavonoids in cocoa are catechins which have been shown to decrease depression in experimental research models. Magnesium can also be found in cocoa and chocolate. Stress can deplete magnesium, leading to depressed mood and anxiety. The way the cocoa is processed can affect the concentration of these nutrients so check the label or seek advice at a health store.
Salmon – The Omega 3 fatty acids found in Salmon are one of the most important nutrients for brain health and mood. Fatty acids are essential components of nerve cell membranes and your body can’t produce them, so they must be obtained through the diet. In the typical Western diet, omega-6 fatty acids are much more abundant than omega-3 fatty acids. While omega-3’s are anti-inflammatory, the omega-6’s promote inflammation leading to inflammatory-related diseases, including depressive disorders.
Walnuts - Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acid which have anti-inflammatory properties and help support the nervous system. They also contain B vitamins which play a crucial role in nervous system health. Try adding walnuts to salads or as a snack on the go. Interestingly, in early medicine, walnuts were considered a ‘brain food’ because they look like the 2 hemispheres of the brain!
Sauerkraut – The gut is often referred to as our ‘second brain’ because it has its own unique and complex nervous system. It communicates with the brain through nerve signals, hormones and other pathways. Our gut contains almost 100 trillion bugs - about 3 pounds worth. New research suggests that a disturbance in gut function can trigger an imbalance in the level of healthy bugs which in some cases may lead to anxiety or depression. Altering gut bacteria is a way to treat many diseases of the gut and now possibly the brain. The good bacteria in your gut love the fibre and nutrients found in fermented foods like Sauerkraut. Look for the refrigerated Sauerkraut as this is the one that contains the good bacteria.
Yours in natural health,
Always consult your healthcare professional before commencing a new dietary or exercise regime, before using any supplements and before making any changes to prescribed medications.