We often have days where we feel grumpy and moody with no specific reason or event that necessarily caused it, but perhaps something did? There is a connection between the food that we eat and the way we feel. While sleep, exercise, environment and stress levels also play a role on our mood, our food choices are one of the least knowledgeable aspects of good mental health. Often we rather want to eat the foods that we love or that are quick and easy than the foods that will be beneficial to our body’s nutrition. Therefore, we tend to blame everything and everyone else when we had a bad day, but it could possibly have been different if we had eaten well.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are vital to our health. When our bodies lack vitamins and minerals due to us not eating enough nutrient-rich foods, it can have a big effect on our energy, mood and brain function.
Your goal should be to get your vitamins and minerals from eating a healthy, balanced diet. This should include 5 different fruits and 5 different vegetables of 5 different colours, on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the quality of our fresh produce and our busy lifestyles in today’s age does make it somewhat difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle. For most people or in certain circumstances, supplements can help and benefit your body more than you might think. Vitamin B can help with energy levels, iron supplements for people diagnosed with anaemia, folic acid for ladies wanting to become pregnant, magnesium for sore muscles and blood flow regulation, omega-3 for symptoms of sore joints or arthritis and vitamin C to increase collagen production.
Do carbohydrates improve brain power?
According to the Association of UK Dietitians, the ability to focus and concentrate comes from the sufficient supply of energy, from blood glucose, to the brain. The brain actually uses 20% of all energy needed by the body.
To fuel muscles and maintain body temperature, glucose is very important. The glucose in our blood comes from eating carbohydrates, like foods including fruit, vegetables, cereals, bread, rice, potatoes, sugars and lactose in milk.
Eating your breakfast and regular meals containing some carbohydrates will ensure that you will have enough glucose in your blood.
The healthier your sources of carbohydrates are, the better. Healthy sources include wholegrains, vegetables, fruits, legumes and lower fat dairy. The plus side is that these are also an important source of nutrients, for example calcium and B vitamins. When you don’t have enough glucose in the blood (hypoglycaemia) it can make you feel weak, tired and almost like you can’t focus. This should be avoided by people with diabetes and people doing extreme exercise. That weak feeling can also happen with people following a very restrictive diet.
Sometimes we think if something can help with good concentration and focus, like glucose does, we should up the dosage, but once your blood glucose is within the normal range, there is no way you can further boost your brain power or concentration by increasing your glucose levels.
Consistency is key
The healthier we eat, the better we feel. That is a given and if you are willing to give it a try, you will experience that too. Often people start with a healthy eating plan, but then fail to continue if they had a cheat day or couldn’t stick to their plan due to unforeseen circumstances. Therein lies the problem. Life happens, and we don’t always have control over what happens in our days, but we can always make a healthier choice. If you did not have a nutritional lunch, focus on eating healthy again at dinner time and breakfast the next day and a healthy lunch the next day and so forth. Our health is an investment and something to practise daily. Get back into the game if you have fallen off the wagon and focus on your wellbeing and what your body and your brain need. When you are healthy, you will have many more years to spend time with your loved ones and have the energy to enjoy it too.
A messenger chemical in the brain called serotonin, can determine or improve your mood and how you feel. Serotonin is made with a part of protein from the diet (tryptophan), and according to the Association of UK Dietitians, more serotonin can get into the brain when carbohydrate-rich foods are eaten. The important thing to remember is that it should be the healthy carbohydrates.
We know that sometimes we get a craving for carbohydrates, something sweet or comfort food in the hope to boost our mood. Although there is not enough research to prove that eating lots of tryptophan or eating a lot of carbohydrates can really improve your mood improvement. On the other hand, when you don’t consume enough carbohydrates (for example, through a high protein/high fat diet) it can lead to low moods.
Does your food choice really determine your mood?
In order to feel good, a diet that supplies sufficient amounts of healthy carbohydrates at regular times can help to keep blood glucose levels stable. Most importantly, eating breakfast daily is a very beneficial and vital habit. Your eating plan should also contain a great variety of protein including oily fish, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, wholegrain cereal foods and those containing vitamins and minerals. This will all support the body and brain’s functions.
Take caution this holiday season with all the treats and rich foods. Keep your diet clean and nutritional. Your health is your wealth and today is the best day to start eating healthier to ensure a better future for yourself and your loved ones.