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6 good mood food to add to your grocery list

Science has proven that mood plays a huge role in overall health, but it’s a lesser known fact that it also can affect mood and how you feel during the day, says one food scientist.

According to Joshua Gaudry, food scientist at Flannerys Organic & Wholefood Market, when tackling a mental health issue or just trying to improve overall happiness, it’s important to look at it holistically and address your diet.

“There are real physiological adaptations to prolonged stress, and addressing this might help to reduce anxiety symptoms,” he posited.

“If you spend your whole day stressed, with your nervous system ramped up, adrenaline pumped and heart rate elevated as if in some sort of danger, then your body, nervous system – even your muscles in your diaphragm – will adapt to maintaining that state.”

“It will likely take some conscious effort and dedicated time to offset or balance out these.”

Research showed that a diet high in processed foods (with added salt, sugars and fats) can lead to poor mental health and exacerbate feelings of depression and anxiety, Mr Gaudry added.

He outlined six “mood-boosting food”, together with advice for what should be on your weekly grocery list:

Get rid of sugar!

“A diet high in sugars and processed carbohydrates can worsen anxiety as it makes it harder for the body to cope with stress,” Mr Gaudry said.

“Sugar doesn’t cause anxiety, but the spikes in insulin and lack of blood sugar control that comes with excess sugar consumption can put stress on the body, which leads to worsened anxiety.”

What you need to eat more of

Eating more omega 3 containing foods such as fish, avocados, nuts and seeds can help support healthy brain function and neurotransmitter production, he continued.

“Magnesium-rich foods such as nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables can help the body relax and are important to many other bodily functions.”

“Incorporating foods rich in phyto-nutrients and antioxidants like blueberries, acai, cacao and maca into your diet will give your body the best chance to be able to cope with stress,” he said.

Gut health is everything

There is more evidence showing the importance of our gut health and our gut-brain connection, Mr Gaudry noted.

“We have a symbiotic relationship with our gut bacteria, and it’s been shown that gut health can have an effect on mood and mental states. Increasing fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir and tempeh, and avoiding all the nasty emulsifiers, colours and preservatives found in processed foods, can help to support healthy gut bacteria.”

“Also eating prebiotic fibres like inulin and resistant starch can help feed these bacteria, and supplementing with a good probiotic can really help.”

Minimise caffeine and other stimulants

“Anxiety is a heightened response to stress, and caffeine has been shown to worsen anxiety sufferers’ symptoms as it mimics the physiological effects of stress and anxiety,” he said.

Get into meditation!

In terms of clinically proven health benefits, Mr Gaudry outlined, meditation has more evidence than nearly any single practice or treatment.

“Meditation, however, is not a symptomatic cure for anxious feelings, but a consistent daily meditation practice can be one of the best preventative measures. Learning to watch our thoughts can help us notice the thoughts or situations that lead to an anxiety response,” he mused.

“A really good way to start meditating if you’ve tried and struggled before is to start with guided mediations, as these can really help to remind you to come back to the breath or mantra and resist the urge to follow your thoughts.”

Find the right supplements

“Important nutrients can sometimes be hard to get in adequate doses from our diet alone, especially in times of stress where they get depleted much faster. Supplementation with fish oil, magnesium supplements and herbal remedies can be beneficial for your overall health and to help with anxiety,” he concluded.

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“Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain