Now more than ever, our mental health has been massively tested due to Covid-19. As we adapt to the new normal, we’re spending more time indoors and away from those we love, things that are far from normal. We’re taking it hour by hour and day by day. We’re spending more time in the kitchen cooking and baking. We’re making a list ahead of the weekly shop and thinking more about what we eat. As we come to terms with this new normal and try and manage our mental health, we’re looking at some foods that can help.
I recently took the Project One Sky lesson on nutrition – Noelle Crehan is a nutritional therapist with her own impressive, she inspired me to delve deeper into the food for mood approach. I found this useful list in a blog post by an Irish psychologist on Good Mood Food (http://imaginehealth.ie/good-mood-food/) and looks at how food can affect our mood.
Oily fish such as salmon or tuna contain Omega-3 and vitamin D. These help to boost dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain. Low levels of serotonin are linked with depression, while dopamine is a “reward” chemical that the brain releases in response to pleasurable experiences.
Oats are an effective mood booster. This is because they slowly release energy into our bloodstream rather than by a quick rush that soon dips. This helps to keep your blood sugar and mood stable.
Leafy green vegetables – such as spinach or broccoli- contain important B vitamins. Deficiencies in B vitamins have been linked to depression and serotonin production can actually be hindered by low B vitamin levels.
Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of the mineral selenium. In recent years, people have been consuming less selenium, but eating just three Brazil nuts a day can provide your recommended daily amount (RDA). Studies have shown increased depression, irritability, anxiety and tiredness in people with low selenium levels.
Bananas contain dopamine, a natural reward chemical that boosts your mood. They’re also rich in B vitamins, including vitamin B6, which help to soothe your nervous system, and magnesium, another nutrient associated with positive mood.
Berries like blueberries and blackberries contain antioxidants which help produce dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that is critical to memory function and mood.
Early studies found saffron to have effects comparable to antidepressant medications. Researchers believe that the spice works by “the same mechanism as Prozac,” helping to make the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin more available to the brain.
Eating a small amount of dark chocolate every day can reduce feelings of stress. A recent study by Nestle found that, over just two weeks, this helped to reduce stress hormones among people who were highly stressed. Experts believe it could be thanks to the antioxidants found in chocolate.
By incorporating these superfoods into your diet, you will experience increased energy, reduced anxiety, irritability, tiredness and fatigue, and a boost in self-esteem and confidence.
Given the current climate, how have your shopping habits changed? Or have they changed at all? Are you shopping less frequently? Have you started online shopping? What things do you consider when you’re making your shopping list these days?