You are what you eat: Our diet and lifestyle can have a profound effect on our mood and research reveals there’s a direct link between what we eat and how we feel (file image)

London, UK (BBN) – Low mood and depression are common problems for many people of all ages.

If you struggle with feelings of depression, loss of motivation and enthusiasm, or if you have difficulty finding joy in everyday life it’s time to rethink your diet, reports Daily Mail.

Our diet and lifestyle can have a profound effect on our mood and research reveals there’s a direct link between what we eat and how we feel.

In fact, studies suggest people with depression often make food choices that can actually make them feel worse.
Fortunately, there are many foods that can put a smile on your face and make your body feel awesome.

These foods provide you with the right nutrients or co-factors the body needs to produce neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) that give up a natural lift.
Depression affects around one in 10 adults with estimates that up to 50 percent of the population will experience at least one episode of depression during their lives.
Mainstream medicine still relies upon psychoactive drugs that not only have a success rate of 50 percent or less but are fraught with potential side effects.
Current research suggests depression is actually linked to an array of underlying factors including inflammation, insulin resistance, oxidative stress, poor methylation and hormone imbalances.
By tackling these underlying imbalances you can improve overall brain health and boost mood too.
“Fixing your brain starts with fixing your body. Optimising what you put in and taking out the negative influences is the first start “
This is the basis of Functional Nutritionist and Chef Christine Bailey’ s new book The Brain Boost Diet.
Using evidence based research on brain health and proactive lifestyle and dietary changes you can make a profound difference to how you think and feel whatever your age.
If you’re looking to eat your way to happiness Christine has developed a three-day Mood Boosting Diet to kick start a happier you.
Avoiding blood sugar imbalances is one of the quickest ways to notice an immediate improvement in mood.
This means ditching the refined sugary carbohydrates, white starch, fruit juices and sugary smoothies and instead basing your meals around lean proteins, healthy fats (like oily fish, avocado, olives, nuts and seeds) and plenty of antioxidant rich vegetables.
Around 60 percent of your brain is fat – mostly comprised of phospholipids and omega 3 fats. Deprive your body of these healthy fats and your focus, concentration and mood will suffer.
Healthy fats are particularly beneficial to the brain and you can get your daily dose from three different oils – olive oil, coconut oil, and omega 3 rich oils such as oily fish.
Extra-virgin olive oil, which is a good source of polyphenols and monounsaturated fats helps protect the brain cells and lower inflammation.
Coconut oil is rich in special fats called MCT or medium-chain triglycerides that can improve your brain function.
Essential omega-3 fats present in oily fish (e.g sardines, mackerel, salmon, trout, halibut, anchovies) walnuts, flaxseed and chia seeds have been shown in studies to boost mood and tackle depression.
If you’re feeling stressed, then grab a cup of green tea. Green tea contains potent antioxidants including catechins known to protect the brain as well as L theanine which has been shown to improve focus and concentration and lower the stress response.
Low levels of vitamin D are associated with low mood and depression. It is difficult to get sufficient vitamin D in the winter as the main source is sunlight. It is found in small amounts in mushrooms, liver, egg yolks, full fat dairy and oily fish but you may need to take a supplement over the winter.
Recent studies are revealing the importance of a healthy gut flora to mood. Boosting the levels of beneficial gut bacteria have been shown to help the body cope with stress, reduce anxiety and improve mood. Try and include fermented foods daily such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and miso. It may also be helpful to take a good quality probiotic supplement.
When we are stressed, exercise regularly, drink excessive alcohol or consume too many sugary foods we deplete our body’s magnesium reserves.
Magnesium is a powerful relaxant mineral it’s particularly beneficial if you suffer with stress, anxiety or poor sleep.
Here is a list of meals to keep your mood boosted. Scroll down for the recipes showing how to make them.
Chocolate protein overnight peanut bowl
• A great slow releasing breakfast option to energise your body and brain through the morning
• Bananas contain the amino acid tryptophan as well as vitamins A, B6 and C, fibre, potassium, phosphorous, iron and carbohydrate
• Mood-boosting carbohydrates aid in the absorption of tryptophan in the brain
• vitamin B6 helps convert the tryptophan into the mood-lifting hormone serotonin, helping to boost your mood
Chicken burrito bowl
• Chicken is a good source of lean protein, and also contains dietary choline and vitamins B6 and B12 to help maintain healthy homocysteine levels
• High levels of homocysteine have been associated with cognitive decline
• Choline and the B vitamins have been shown to play important roles in healthy cognition and provide neuro-protective benefits
• Choline is an essential building block in acetylcholine, a brain chemical that helps memory
Smashed avocado on gluten free oat cakes or rice cakes
• Known for their heart healthy fats, avocados are packed with monounsaturated fats known to lower inflammation (inflammation can disrupt levels of mood boosting neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin)
• Avocados are packed with tyrosine, an amino acid that helps the body produce dopamine which helps increase feelings of reward and motivation helping to lift mood
Fish Pie made with mixed fish including salmon and prawns and top with a sweet potato mash. Serve with steamed vegetables or salad.
• Wild-caught salmon is one of the best foods for both your mood and brain health
• This lean protein is rich in vitamin B12 which has been shown to reduce feelings of depression
• It also packs plenty of omega 3 fats which help optimize brain function and production of neurotransmitters
• Salmon is also rich in Tryptophan, the amino acid required to boost serotonin levels
Scrambled eggs with shittake mushrooms and wilted spinach
• The protein in eggs, particularly the yolks can significantly boost your blood plasma levels of tryptophan and tyrosine – the building blocks to mood neurotransmitters
• They also contain choline and omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve memory too
• Shittake mushrooms are rich in energising B vitamins particularly B6
• Because vitamin B6 impacts the production of serotonin and other neurotransmitters, healthy B6 levels are associated with a positive mood and reducing stress naturally
Lemon tahini wilted kale salad with chickpeas
• Kale is packed with B vitamins, folate and magnesium, which are essential for the production of neurotransmitters including mood boosting serotonin and dopamine
• The seeds and tahini contain healthy fats, zinc and vitamin E, which all have an important role to play in cognitive function
Kefir protein smoothie (blend up kefir with a scoop of protein powder and add a cup of fresh or frozen berries)
• Probiotic rich foods like yogurt and kefir are a must for a healthy brain
• Packed with beneficial bacteria researchers have found probiotics can help fight depression and anxiety
• It is thought that bacteria may decrease inflammation in the body and increase levels of tryptophan
• Berries are loaded with antioxidants including anthocyanidins, known to boost brain function and promote brain and nervous system health
• Berries are also low in sugar and calories and packed with fibre to help balance blood sugar and energy levels
Turkey chili with wholegrain rice and broccoli
• Turkey is a protein packed food rich in tryptophan, which the body uses to make serotonin
• Lean poultry also contains another amino acid called tyrosine, which can help reduce symptoms of depression and boost motivation by improving levels of dopamine too
Golden milk turmeric smoothie
• Curcumin, one of the active compounds in turmeric, is capable of crossing the blood–brain barrier, which is one reason why it holds promise as a neuro-protective agent
• Known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it might help in the prevention and recovery of brain function in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s
Bullet-Proof Mocha Mushroom Smoothie
• Medicinal mushrooms like Lion’s mane and Reishi have been shown to be particularly beneficial for brain health
• Lion’s mane appears to improve cognitive function and nerve regeneration
• They are adaptogenic – helping the body cope with daily stress
• These powders are now widely available and make a great addition to smoothies and soups
• If you are caffeine sensitive choose a quality decaffeinated brand, Green tea or use dandelion coffee
Smoked mackerel salad with raw sauerkraut or kimchi
• Eating foods like probiotics that promote good bacteria in the gut can also improve your focus and mood
Handful nuts and two squares of dark chocolate
• There are over 300 naturally-occurring chemicals in chocolate, and some of them can affect the human brain via the release of particular neurotransmitters which affect how we think and feel
• Phenylethylamine is sometimes called ‘the love drug’, because it arouses feelings similar to those that occur when one is in love
• Another chemical found in chocolate known as tryptophan causes the release of the feel good neurotransmitter serotonin
• A recent study found that eating 40g (just an ounce and a half) of dark chocolate daily for two weeks reduced levels of stress hormones in highly stressed, anxious individuals
• The researchers discovered that compounds in dark chocolate affected our beneficial gut bacteria which changed the metabolism of stress hormones reducing overall anxiety
• Nuts are full of serotonin, a feel-good chemical that’s in short supply when you’re depressed
• Nuts are also full of antioxidants and healthy fats – vital nutrients for optimising brain health
Grilled lamb with aubergine & minty chimichurri with mixed salad
• Lamb is a rich source of high-quality protein, essential for neurotransmitter production
• It is also an outstanding source of many vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc and vitamin B12, all of which are important for cognitive function
• Low iron can result in poor energy, cognitive function and low mood
• Lamb is also a good source of taurine, a potent neuro-protective amino acid that might also improve sleep patterns and overall cognitive function.