Top 10 Mood Boosting Foods

We know that the balance of our wellbeing often lies in getting enough sleep, enough exercise and enough water, but getting the right nutrition is also imperative to the positivity of our mood and aptitude of our performance. We’ve probably all experienced the post lunch slump after indulging in convenience pasta and sandwiches, leading us to feel sluggish and tired at our desks and thus stressed at the end of the day having not completed the amount of work we should have. So much of our energy and concentration is determined by what we feed our brain that Health Fitness Revolution has made a list of top 10 Mood Boosting Foods to help you stay happy and alert in the office, at home and at play.

“Serotonin is a brain chemical that is known to impact your mood. Keeping levels in balance can help promote a feeling of calm, well-being, mental alertness, control and an increased ability to deal with stress.  Since diet can influence our supply of serotonin” says, Samir Becic

  • Nuts and Seeds: Researchers from the University of Barcelona found that men and women eating almonds, walnuts and Brazil nuts had higher levels of serotonin metabolites. In addition, just one ounce of mixed nuts a day may also help reduce obesity, blood pressure and blood sugar.

  • Greek yogurt: This dairy pick is packed with more calcium than you’ll find in milk or regular yogurt, and it can make you happy, too. Proper calcium levels give the “Go” command, alerting your body to release feel-good neurotransmitters.

Pan Fried Salmon

Pan Fried Salmon

  • Ocean-going cold water fish: such as salmon and mercury-free tuna contain omega-3 fatty acids which can help improve depression symptoms. A past study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that volunteers with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood had fewer depression symptoms and a more positive outlook.

Tofu Salad Bowl

Tofu Salad Bowl

  • Flaxseed: another great source of omega-3 fatty acids. They also are rich in magnesium and B-vitamins, nutrients that help us combat stress.

  • Soy isoflavones: help with mood and mental function. These foods are also rich sources of vegetarian (no-cholesterol) protein which may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease as well. Add soy foods such as tofu, tempeh, miso, and soy milk to your daily diet.

  • Avocado: rich in omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, antioxidants, and potassium.

  • Asparagus: This vegetable is one of the top plant-based sources of tryptophan, which serves as a basis for the creation of serotonin, one of the brain’s primary mood-regulating neurotransmitters. High levels of folate also add to asparagus’ happiness-promoting profile because research has shown that up to 50 percent of people with depression suffer from low folate levels.

  • Dark chocolate: which contains an antioxidant known as resveratrol. This nutrient can help boost brain levels of endorphins and serotonin, helping to improve your mood. The recommended dose is one ounce per day (not the whole bag!)

Boiled Eggs

Boiled Eggs

  • DHA: is a particular form of omega-3 fatty acid that can be found in many foods. But including organic DHA-fortified eggs in the diet will also provide a good source of protein and tryptophan. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that when people eat eggs for breakfast, they feel more satisfied and therefore consume fewer calories throughout the day compared to a high-carbohydrate breakfast, such as a bagel.

  • Mussels: loaded with some of the highest naturally occurring levels of brain-protecting vitamin B12 on the planet. That makes it an important food source, considering that a significant portion of the U.S. population is B12 deficient. Maintaining healthy B12 levels preserves the myelin sheath that insulates your brain cells, helping your brain stay sharp as you grow older. Mussels also contain trace nutrients that are important to balancing your mood, including zinc, iodine, and selenium, things vital to keeping your thyroid, your body’s master mood regulator, on track.

With a mood-boosting diet change, don’t forget to include exercise as well. Regular exercise can be as effective for depression treatment as antidepressant medication or psychotherapy. Just getting out for 30 minutes can have a huge impact on your outlook for the rest of the day.

For more information about Health Fitness Revolution please visit their website.

Recipe: Charred courgette & salmon with herb sauce

As the summer approaches we’re looking to ditch the stews and pies in favour of lighter, healthier dishes. Lets be honest the thought of bearing our carb loaded winter bodies right now is quite a scary prospect and so we’ve enlisted the help (basically begged!) of FYOUFODMAP’s Nikki Griffith who’s shared some of her bloat beating recipes.

IMG_4630.jpeg

Charred Courgette & Salmon with her sauce.

Courgettes can be a bit bland, so the cooking of them is mega important here. Don’t get impatient, you need to wait for the char. It’ll add depth and smokiness and will give you the perfect backdrop for the more punchy salmon.

IMG_4631.jpeg

Guidance from Monash University says that up to 100g of courgette is low in FODMAPs. Anything higher and you’ll come up against high amounts of fructans. That means you can pretty much eat one courgette per person (by the time you’ve lost the end bits and a few scraps). The restrictions on size definitely put this into the ‘light’ dinner category so if you’re hungry, maybe add a potato salad on the side.

  • 400g courgettes

  • 4 large, skinless and boneless salmon fillets

  • 1 red chilli, sliced

IMG_4632.jpeg

For the dressing:

  • 20g basil (including stalks)

  • 8g parsley leaves

  • 10g spring onion greens

  • Juice of half a lemon

  • 75ml extra virgin olive oil

  • 15ml garlic-infused olive oil

  • Half a teaspoon of salt

Serves 4 for a light lunch or dinner

  1. Slice your courgettes lengthways (I use a mandolin for this on the second-to-thinnest setting). Heat some oil in a large griddle pan and cook your courgettes in a single layer until you see visible dark char lines, then flip them and repeat on the other side. You’ll need to do this in several batches but I promise, the time investment is worth it. If you put them all in at once then you run the risk of a mushy mess and none of the char flavour. Once all your courgettes are done, pop them in your oven to keep warm on the lowest heat setting.

  2. In a frying pan, heat some oil and then add your salmon fillets (the oil should hiss as you add them if hot enough). Cook them for 3 to 4 minutes on each side depending on how you like them to be done. I like mine still a bit blush in the middle so I do 3 minutes each side.

  3. Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a food processor*.

  4. Once your salmon is ready, remove it from the pan and flake it into large chunks. Then carefully combine everything in a large bowl, making sure not to break the salmon up too much, and serve with some sliced red chilli on top.

*If you don’t have a food processor, try finely (and I mean finely) chopping your herbs, mixing all the sauce ingredients together and pressing with a pestle. It won’t be quite the same but it’ll still be fresh and zingy. 

As mentioned, if you’re following a low FODMAP diet then you’ll need to stick to these amounts. If you’re not, you can add extra courgette for a more substantial serving.

WHAT IS THE LOW FODMAP DIET?

It’s a diet that’s been specially developed by the clever researchers at Monash University in Melbourne, to help relieve people suffering with IBS, which affects 1 in 7 people, from the associated symptoms.

The word FODMAP is an acronym, standing for:

  • Fermentable (basically that refers to foods that are broken down by gut bacteria and then produce gases in your belly)

  • Oligosaccharides (in particular: wheat, onions and garlic)

  • Disaccharides (that’s lactose to you and I)

  • Monosaccharides (a.k.a. fructose – found in honey, high-fructose corn syrups and fruits like apples)

  • And

  • Polyols (Sorbitol & Mannitol – these are found in some fruits and vegetables)

You can find a full list of foods you can and can’t eat on the Monash FODMAP app.

IMG_4636.jpeg

The idea of the low FODMAP diet is to cut from your diet foods high in FODMAPs, for a period of 6 to 8 weeks. For some people with a gut-imbalance such as SIBO, they may be able to go back to eating as normal. Others will gradually re-introduce foods back into their diet, helping them to identify which are causing nasty symptoms.

For more about Nikki or to read more of her recipes please visit www.fyoufodmap.com or follow her on instagram at @fyoufodmap