7 Foods to Boost your 'Happy Hormones'
Maintaining a positive mood and mental wellbeing is crucial in our fast-paced and often stressful lives. Did you know that the food you eat can play a significant role in influencing your happiness? We asked our Accredited Practising Dietitians about the connection between nutrition and mental health. They have shared insights into incorporating 'happy hormone foods' into your diet to promote a positive mood and overall wellbeing.
Understanding 'Happy Hormones'
Before we dive into the specifics of happy hormone foods, let's briefly explore the key neurotransmitters and hormones that contribute to our feelings of happiness:
1. Serotonin is known as the 'feel-good' neurotransmitter, it helps regulate mood, sleep and appetite. Low levels of serotonin are often associated with feelings of depression and anxiety.
2. Dopamine is often referred to as the 'reward neurotransmitter'; it is crucial for motivation, pleasure, and reinforcement of behaviour. An imbalance in dopamine levels can contribute to mood disorders.
3. Endorphins are the body's natural painkillers and mood elevators. Exercise, laughter, and certain foods can stimulate the release of endorphins.
Adding Happy Hormone Foods
Our Dietitians recommend foods that have the power to boost your mood!
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Foods rich in omega-3 Fatty acids, such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, and sardines), flaxseeds, and walnuts, are linked to improved mood and reduced symptoms of depression.
Whole grains, legumes, and vegetables are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates. These foods aid in the production of serotonin, promoting a stable and positive mood.
Include lean protein sources like poultry, eggs, tofu, and dairy products. Protein contains amino acids that are building blocks of neurotransmitters, including dopamine.
Indulging in moderate amounts of dark chocolate can boost serotonin levels. Choose chocolate with at least 70% cocoa content for maximum benefits.
Fruits and Vegetables
Colourful fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants and vitamins that support overall brain health. Berries, in particular, are linked to cognitive function and mood enhancement.
A healthy gut is essential for mental wellbeing. Incorporate probiotic-rich foods like yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi to support gut health and potentially improve mood.
Nuts and Seeds
Almonds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds are great sources of magnesium, a mineral associated with the production of serotonin. Snack on a handful to boost your mood.
The Power of Food
The biggest tip our dietitians gave? View food as more than just 'single nutrients' for your body, but as whole foods, as together they can influence your mood and happiness. By incorporating these foods into your diet, you can take proactive steps towards enhancing your mental wellbeing. Remember, balance and moderation are key - focus on creating a diverse and enjoyable diet that supports your physical and mental health."