Using food, not drugs

It’s fairly well known now that diet affects mood, and that junk food can be the cause of depression, particularly in teenagers. Quite literally, changing your diet can change your mood. Anyone who has lost weight due to eating healthier food, will have noticed a mood boost, which is  greater than the satisfaction of shedding a few kilos.

Excessive sugar in the diet creates fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which can correlate with mood fluctuations. On the other hand, some foods particularly have a beneficial effect on mood.

Here are some things you can try right away to help stabilise your changing moods:

Chocolate has a mood-enhancing effect. Cacao is one of the highest food sources of antioxidants and magnesium, iron, fibre, chromium and manganese and helps with cardiovascular health plus energy levels. These benefits are more likely to br achieved with good quality chocolate that contains minimal sugar. Adding cocoa powder to hot and cold drinks and baking is healthy!

Fatty Acids – Omega-3 fatty acids help to nourish your brain. As well as containing beneficial fatty acids, fresh fish is a good quality protein that has a mood-balancing effect.

Chilli can be a tasty addition to a dish, but it can also increase the release of endorphins, which create pleasant feelings.

B vitamins have long been known to be essential nutrients for your nervous system. If you are deficient in B vitamins, as white flour products can make you, foods high in B vitamins can improve your mood. The fibre in whole grains is just one reason that wholemeal flour, pasta and brown rice are of benefit. Foods that are rich in B vitamins are dark leafy greens, seafood, bananas, chicken, eggs, almonds and avocados.

Real Food

The normal western diet has become imbued with highly processed foods. For example, chips, fruit juices, sugary chocolate spreads, white flour, white bread, white rice and takeaways have become normal in our daily diet. However, these foods contain large amounts of sugar, salt, artificial flavours, colours, preservatives, little nutrition and can affect moods quite markedly.

Real food is unprocessed and purchased fresh, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products, fruit, veg, and wholemeal grains – all of it prepared at home most of the time. This food hasn’t been changed in any way, and apart from bread, doesn’t come in a packet. If you avoid most of the the middle part of any supermarket, you’ll find the real food – meats, eggs, fish, fruit, veg and breads around the edges.

If anyone in your family suffers from unexplained mood swings, poor concentration, restlessness or sleeping problems, getting back to basics with these foods can make a real difference. Make no mistake, stabilising blood sugar levels with three nourishing, protein-based meals a day, can leave you or your loved one in a much better mood.

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