Tough day at the office? Argument with your other half? Or just persistent low mood? Everyone experiences poor mood at some stage and it can be a distressing and difficult thing to deal with. Chatting, exercise and a good night sleep can all help to lift our mood a little. Food choices can also play a huge part in affecting how we feel.
If you’ve had a bad day you’re less likely to think ‘Oh I’ll have a healthy, delicious salad’! It’s much easier to reach for the takeaway menu and indulge in a tub of ice cream in an effort to comfort ourselves.
Choosing the right foods for our mood can play a massive role in helping us feel better. Neurotransmitters in the brain are used to communicate with the rest of the body. These include tryptophan and serotonin which are both made of amino acids.
Certain foods can affect the levels of these neurotransmitters in the body and in turn, can affect how we feel. Nutrients like these are some which have a particularly important role in regulating mood:
B vitamins: these are needed as they help to produce serotonin. Serotonin helps us feel calmer and more relaxed. B vitamins can be found in wholegrains, vegetables and legumes.
Omega 3 fatty acids: found in oily fish, nuts and seeds, omega 3 fatty acids will help with the production on dopamine in the brain. Low dopamine levels can leave us feeling down and fatigued.
Wholegrains: serotonin is produced when carbohydrates are eaten. Wholegrain varieties of carbohydrates allow for a slow release of energy and avoid a high release of blood glucose followed by a slump.
Vitamin D: for a long time there has been an association between Vitamin D and mood. Aim to get out into the sunlight for a while every day and include foods like eggs, oily fish, cheese and green leafy vegetables to get your Vitamin D boost.
Try and avoid consuming a high proportion of caffeine, alcohol and sugar as these can cause fluctuations in mood. If you are experiencing persistent low mood and need to talk contact Aware on 1800 80 48 48, visited your GP or talk to a trusted family member or friend. Remember that it is absolutely okay to not be okay.
Emma Brennan is a qualified Nutritionist and is a registered member of the Association for Nutrition (AFN). Emma attained her qualification in Human Nutrition from Ulster University, Coleraine. Emma has a passion for all things nutrition and health related and her mission is to educate the public about their health and wellbeing through her blogs, videos and nutrition tips online and through the Good4U Nutrition Service provided to schools, sports clubs and businesses.