Jill Brown Fitness

Mediterranean diet linked to better mood

What You Need to Know About Mood Boosting Foods

Mediterranean Diet and foods high in polyphenols and isoflavones
are linked with better mood

The Truth About Foods That Boost Your Mood Boosting

I’m sure you’ve seen posts, video, news reports, etc that give you a list of foods to boost your mood, memory or improve your mental health.

There are plenty of studies that show potential links between certain types of food or nutrients to lower rates of depression, better memory, or improved cognition

The findings you’ve probably heard the most hoopla about are that the Mediterranean diet and certain foods such as fish, fresh vegetables, and fruits have been associated with a lower risk of depression or depressive symptoms, while high-fat Western diets and sugar-sweetened beverages have been associated with higher risk of depression or depressive symptoms. And that, antioxidants like the polyphenols in green tea or isoflavones are also associated with lower rates of depression and depressive symptoms. But the scientists studying this stuff say more research is needed to understand exactly how food affects mental wellbeing. And then they can determine how and when nutrition can be used to improve mental health.

But there is one thing we can all hang our hats on (unless you’re a believer in the carnivore diet). We should all avoid highly processed foods, ease up on sugar, eat more fruits, veggies and, whole foods.  Maybe add certain supplements if we’re deficient.

Here’s the truth bomb… 

The same foods that are good for your physical health are also good for your brain and emotional health.

In other words, simply eating healthier can improve your mental wellbeing.

The problem is often, when we’re feeling mentally or emotionally off, like stressed out or anxious or down, we may gravitate towards the unhealthy foods.

If we’re honest with ourselves, there’s probably some room for improvement in some area of our diet.

As a matter of fact, the average American eats less than two servings of vegetables a day and many eat less than one serving of fruit.

So upping our whole foods with an extra serving of each shouldn’t be too difficult. Remember the Mediterranean diet? One thing to keep in mind is that it’s mostly whole food.

If you’re not a big fan of prepping fresh veggies from the farmers market, my secret weapon for my nutrition coaching clients is frozen fruits and veggies.  They last a long time, retain all their nutrients and cut down on waste.  Plus they just need a few minutes in the microwave or a pan. 

Here’s how you move the bar….

If you’re starting out towards the far left, remember, it’s about “progress, not perfection.”  You want to start gradually making adjustments to your diet and move towards the right. It’s pretty amazing how making small changes, done consistently, can really transform your health.

Now, back to eating for better mental health…

There’s a bit more to it than the foods on your plate.

Other key factors that affect your mental state are:

  • Where you eat
  • How, and how often you eat
  • Who you eat with 

You can lower your anxiety levels by: 

▶ Eating in a calm, relaxing, or pleasant environment

▶ Slowing down to savor what you’re eating

▶ Reducing distractions that trigger sadness, tension, anger and anxiety

▶ Eating with people who make you laugh or feel good

▶Sharing meals or cooking for others for a feeling of connection

And finally, knowing what you lack nutritionally. 

Have you checked your vitamin D levels lately?  Many people are deficient and may need the proper amount supplementation.  Vitamin D is precursor to making seratonin.  (Note:  It’s recommend to take vitamin D with vitamin K2 if you are supplementing. Vitamin D increases calcium levels and vitamin K helps shuttle the calcium into the bones).

What about Omega-3 fatty acids?  Do you eat enough seafood? There is a connection between a deficiency in this essential fatty acid and mental health conditions.  Studies show omega-3s can travel through the cell membranes of brain cells and interact with molecules known to play a role in mood regulation.

Know what else is 100% effective in mood boosting?  

Regular exercise of course.