The sun is shining which puts most of us in a good mood. However, for some of us personal problems, work stress, financial ups and downs among other things can bring on a bout of the summer blues. But the good news is some small diet tweaks can help lighten your mood to help you really embrace the summer months.
Clinical nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her food mood secrets.
THE GOOD FATS
Good fats, aka the essential omega-3s, are probably top of the list when it comes to choosing good-mood foods. The brain contains a very high percentage of these fats, plus they help to promote the production of the brain’s neurotransmitters (brain-to-body communicators) and are also key in the production of the brain’s happy hormone, serotonin.
Try to eat oily fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines and trout, plus nuts and seeds two or three times a week. Flaxseeds are also especially rich in omega-3s if you’re vegetarian.
It’s also worth remembering that trans fats found in margarines and refined cakes and biscuits can block the metabolism of these good fats, so keep an eye on this if you want to stay ‘up-beat!’
BRILLIANT B VITAMINS
The B vitamins work in tandem with essential fats, meaning one can’t work without the other. The family of 8 B vitamins (also known as the full B-Vitamin Complex) fulfil a wealth of essential roles within the body, but they’re also needed for many enzyme reactions, which help produce neurotransmitters.
It’s important to include plenty in the diet from wholegrain rice, quinoa, wholemeal pasta and bread, peas, beans and lentils. They are also found in many wholefoods, including colourful fruits and vegetables.
One of our key trace minerals, magnesium is another very busy nutrient. Affectionately known as ‘nature’s natural tranquiliser’ because it aids relaxation, it also works in tandem with the B vitamins to help ensure your brain chemistry is well balanced.
The good news is that many foods containing B vitamins also contain magnesium. Green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale and cauliflower are especially good sources.
Sometimes known as our ‘happy hormone’, the manufacture of serotonin in the brain is partly dependent on the nutrients above, although some is made in the gut (hence the often-used expression ‘gut-brain connection’). It’s also metabolised from an amino acid called tryptophan, found in chicken, milk, soya, nuts, eggs and wholegrains. So, try to include some of these foods in your diet to get sufficient tryptophan, which will help boost levels of serotonin.