Every day we discover more about the importance of what we put into our bodies, not only for our physical health, but for our mental health as well. In the winter, that can be a particularly powerful antidote to the cold and dark months of the year, so how can we use autumn nutrition to help care for our health and wellbeing?
So how can we eat to improve our mood?
In the past we have spoken about the impact of what we eat on our gut health. In turn, we have looked at how that affects our brain function and hormone levels in general. There are however particular foods that, when incorporated into our diets, can help to keep us feeling our best. Here Lifehouse Spa and Hotel recommends a few ‘super ingredients’ and why you might want to try them, especially in the dark and cold autumn and winter months…
Oily fish for Vitamin D
A lot of us are Vitamin D deficient at this time of year. Supplementation is one way to boost your vitamin D3, which is natural as opposed to synthesised. You can also get it from certain foods such as herring, salmon, trout and sardines
Whole grains for B Vitamins
B vitamins are fundamental to a healthy nervous system, which affects how with sleep and how we think. There are 11 different B vitamins and they all work together to fulfil the many jobs they have in the body. Again, you can take supplements, but look for a complex rather than a specific B vitamin. However, B vitamin rich foods are preferable, and these include whole grains, egg yolks, green leafy veg, nuts, meats, fish.
Berries for brain function
Helping to boost blood sugar as well being loaded with brain boosting plant pigments, an assortment of berries are sweet but relatively low in sugar, making them an ideal snack to keep you feeling appropriately fuelled throughout the day. “Bright purple foods and berries may help clear our minds, and they certainly help me think straight, ” writes Rachel Kelly in her book The Happy Kitchen: Good Mood Food (Short Books, £14.99).
Oats for slow energy release
Being told that porridge is a good start to the day will come as no surprise to anyone. Personally favoured because it is something warm and comforting to wake up to, oats also rank low on the glycemic index. They release energy slowly throughout the day, meaning that blood sugar stays more stable, and so does your mood. They also contain the mood-boosting mineral selenium. Also in this slow release category are beans and pulses.
Walnuts for omega 3
Have you ever noticed how the humble walnut looks like the brain? Well that’s a little indicator of its super powers. Rich in omega 3, the lipids it contains are great for brain function - something to add to that morning porridge.
Mushrooms for mood swings
When you’re hangry your mood is likely to swing, but mushrooms are another low Glycemic Index food that will help to control blood sugar levels and even out your mood. They’re also great for gut bacteria, which, as mentioned in previous articles, is fundamental for mental wellbeing courtesy of the gut-brain axis.
Tomatoes for depression
Folate, or vitamin B9, is vitamin that’s known to have a number of benefits, and is often recommended to pregnant women to help development of a baby. It’s also known however, to be helpful in the prevention of depression. In fact, in general brightly coloured fruit and veg can be helpful in this capacity.