Good mood foods: Can you munch your way to happiness?

Your brain works 24/7 and, just like a car, it will perform better with premium fuel.

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We all know that eating well is important for your health, but did you know it can impact your mood as well? Your brain works 24/7 and, just like a car, it will perform better with premium fuel.

What you eat can make a big difference to your mood, anxiety and even depression. Research from Duke University shows that if you change your diet you can feel the benefit in a relatively short space of time.

Nutritious foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants nourish and protect the brain. They can reduce inflammation and restore a healthy balance of gut bacteria.

Good gut bacteria not only influence what your gut digests and absorbs, but they also impact your mood, behaviour and energy levels. In fact studies have shown that when people take probiotics to restore their gut health, their anxiety levels, perception of stress and mental outlook also improve.

The gut is also responsible for producing a neurotransmitter called serotonin—about 95 per cent of it is produced in your digestive system and it is influenced by good bacteria. Serotonin helps regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods and inhibit pain.

On the flip side, diets high in refined sugars have been linked to impaired brain function and poor diets have been shown to impact an area of the brain important for learning, memory and mood regulation.

So what are some good mood foods you should be adding to your shopping basket?

Nuts

These crunchy morsels include a wide range of nutrients that are important for brain health, including vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, manganese, copper, B group vitamins and healthy fats. Regularly eating nuts can improve cognition and memory, and boost learning skills.

Leafy greens

Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach are packed with magnesium, which boosts mood, combats tiredness and helps you produce energy.

Citrus

Fruits such as oranges, lemons and mandarins are particularly high in flavonoids—nutritional compounds important for maintaining cognition and memory as we age. If you are not a citrus fan, try apples and berries for a flavonoid boost.

Fermented foods

Healthy gut, healthy mind. Fermented foods contain probiotics and research shows that probiotic-rich diets help to reduce stress and improve memory. Fermented foods include yoghurt with active cultures, kefir, tempeh and sauerkraut.

While-grain brekkie

Eating breakfast every day should be a “no brainer”. It can lift your mood and has been associated with improved cognitive function and concentration in school kids. For long-lasting energy choose healthy brekkie options such as whole-grain cereals or oats, low fat yoghurt and fruit, or whole-grain toast and spreads. Whole-grain cereals and breads are also a good source of fibre, important for good gut health.