Good Mood Food: eating to elevate your wellbeing
Fuel a positive mind-set, energy, vitality and happiness with a few easy adjustments to your diet. This contributing article by Grace Belgravia is just on that.
There has been a surge in scientific research surrounding the relationship between gut health and the mind – and about time; nutritionists have been recognising the complexities of our diet and mental health since before super-foods were identified. Ayurvedic medicine has celebrated the mind-body connection for over 5,000 years. With a myriad of fad diets and quick fixes promising to help shed pounds, this month we wanted to focus on food from a different perspective; exploring ways of eating which can elevate your mood and restore balance.
Perhaps most significant is the neurotransmitter, Serotonin, which regulates mood and influences everything from social behaviour to appetite, quality of sleep, memory and more, with low levels linked with depression. Serotonin isn’t present in food, but it can be affected by the amino acid tryptophan –found in foods that are rich in iron, vitamin B6 and riboflavin. To benefit from a boost look to eggs, salmon, tofu, nuts, pineapple and even turkey.
Nourish the gut
Another way to nurture serotonin is to feed good gut bacteria – as much as 95% of the body’s supply exists in the gut, so create a healthy environment for it. Fermented goods are something of a trend for 2018, which means there are all sorts of delicious sauerkrauts and pickles, kombuchas and kefirs available – or if you prefer, make your own. Fermenting begins the digestion process; breaking down sugar and starch (thus putting less strain on our own system) and as Grace Nutritionist, Jade Barkett explains; “the process encourages the production of further enzymes and probiotics which support good gut health”.
Restore balance with FODMAPs
Over 12 million people in the UK suffer with IBS – many of them women. This can manifest as anything from abdominal pain, to irregular bowel movement and bloating; it encompasses many digestive discomforts for which a cause can’t easily be identified, but leave you feeling irritable and uncomfortable. For some, this can make socialising difficult, disrupt work, sleep or family life – so finding ways to restore balance can be really freeing – both physically and mentally. A low FODMAP diet should only be followed under guidance from a dietician but essentially, by removing carbohydrates that are difficult to break down, bloating and other symptoms can be reduced. A low FODMAP diet encourages the inclusion of dark leafy greens that aid digestion, alongside prebiotics that support good gut health. There are a number of helpful apps (try this one)that use a traffic light system to help you avoid ingredients that might cause upset; which makes managing IBS much easier.
Regulate blood sugar
Spikes in our blood sugar levels contribute to rapid mood swings, anxiety and irritability – which is something to be mindful of if you follow a particularly restrictive diet that doesn’t incorporate healthy fats or natural sugars. If you need a snack, aim to keep blood sugar levels stable and opt for slow energy releasing options that combine protein, carbs and fats. Fruits are a good source of natural sugar but can still raise insulin, so enjoy them with a handful of raw nuts, or better yet, opt for blueberries, blackberries and strawberries for lower fructose levels.
Most importantly take time and care over your food and embrace a colourful variety of fresh, seasonal goodness. Read our latest detox article here. At Grace, we change the menu regularly to work with what’s in season – that’s when ingredients taste best and deliver optimum nutritional benefits. Listening to your body and eating intuitively is far more effective than restrictive diets; experiment with different dishes, seek expert guidance and test for intolerances and you’ll soon reap the benefits of good mood food.
For those of you who don’t know. Grace Belgravia is London’s leading health, wellbeing and lifestyle club offering integrated medical clinic, spa retreat, gym, healthy restaurant and inspiring events.
To learn more about your constitution and treating IBS or to find new ways of optimising mental and physical health through nutrition, click here. Grace Belgravia membership is not required to take advantage of the extensive services available at Grace Medical and Wellbeing Clinic, which is open to both men and women. Contact the clinic directly: (0)20 7235 8900Ex. 2