There has been a lot of research between the relationship between nutrition and mental health. Mood can be influenced by many factors, such as stress, environment, poor sleep, genetics, mood disorders, and nutritional deficiencies. An imbalanced gut microbiome can affect mood, as your serotonin “ the good mood guys” are made in the gut, so if your gut flora is imbalanced, it’s harder to make the brain’s serotonin. There are foods for mental health that have been shown to improve overall brain health and certain types of mood disorders. 

Raw salmon on a cutting board with fresh spices

Fatty fish

Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of essential fats that you must obtain through your diet because your body can’t produce them on its own.

Fatty fish like salmon, pilchards and mackerel and are rich in two types of omega-3s — docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) — that are linked to lower levels of depression. The brain is 60% fat, so if you’re deficient in the omegas, it can affect brain function and cell signalling.Regardless, it’s high in health-promoting flavonoids, which have been shown to increase blood flow to your brain, reduce inflammation, and boost brain health, all of which may support mood regulation. It contains phenylethylamine, a neuromodulator which regulates people’s moods. It also has magnesium, a mineral that relaxes and helps with anxiety.

Dark chocolate

Eating dark chocolate may positively affect mood and relieve depressive symptoms. Because milk chocolate contains added ingredients like sugar and fat, it’s best to opt for dark chocolate — which is higher in flavonoids and lower in added sugar. Chocolate has flavonoids which help fight inflammation, as well as magnesium which helps alleviate stress. It has iron and caffeine which helps with alertness. So – chocolate in moderation is delicious and has health giving properties!

Fermented foods

Fermented Since up to 90% of your body’s serotonin is produced in your gut, a healthy gut may correspond to a good mood. Fermented foods like kimchi, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut are rich in probiotics that support gut health.foods,  such as  kimchi, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut, may improve gut health and mood.The fermentation process allows live bacteria to thrive in foods that help create a healthy microbiome (healthy gut bacteria.), allowing probiotics to grow.  Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects many facets of human behavior, such as mood, stress response, depression, appetite, and sexual drive. Up to 90% of your body’s serotonin is produced by your gut microbiome.

Bananas

Bananas contain the amino acid, tryptophan which converts to serotonin in the brain, as well as having vitamin B6, the “anti stress vitamin”. As well as being delicious, bananas can improve your mood.

Oats

Oats are a whole grain that can keep you in good spirits all morning. You can enjoy them in many forms, such as oatmeal, muesli, and granola.They’re an excellent source of fiber. Oats have iron, magnesium, b vitamins and zinc, which improve mood and help with stress, insomnia and anxiety. Oats are a slow release carbohydrate, which stabilises blood sugar which regulates mood.

 Berries

Berries are rich in antioxidants, which helps with inflammation in the body. Inflammation is associated with depression and other mood disorders. They’re particularly high in anthocyanins, a pigment that gives certain berries their purple blue colour. Berries are rich in disease-fighting anthocyanins, which may lower your risk of depression.

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are high in plant-based proteins, healthy fats, and fiber. They also provide tryptophan, an amino acid responsible for producing mood-boosting serotonin. Almonds, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts, as well as pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds, are excellent sources. Brazil nuts, almonds, and pine nuts, are good sources of zinc and selenium. Deficiency in these minerals, which are important for brain function, is associated with higher rates of depression and anxiety. Brazil nuts, almonds, and pine nuts, are good sources of zinc and selenium. Deficiency in these minerals, which are important for brain function, is associated with higher rates of depression and anxiety.

Coffee

Coffee is the world’s most popular drink, that releases dopamine and norepinephrine, mood boosting neurotransmitters. The caffeine improves brain function such as memory mood and energy levels. So – your daily cup of coffee brings many pleasureable  and health benefits!

Beans and lentils

In addition to being high in fiber and plant-based protein, beans and lentils are full of feel-good nutrients. Legumes are an excellent source of B vitamins, which help improve mood by increasing levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), all of which are important for regulating mood. They also contain magnesium and zinc which help with stress and mood.

Sugar and refined carbohydrates like white bread, cakes, biscuits, sweets and soft drinks deplete valuable nutrients. Foods for mental health include a diet of wholegrain bread, oats, nuts and seeds, vegetables, fruit and pre and probiotic foods can help maintain healthy gut microbiome and mood.