Mood food

By at home

We’ve all heard the mantra ‘you are what you eat’ but making sure you eat the right foods on a regular basis can help you to feel in tip top condition and may also boost your sex life and alleviate bad moods.

When you’re feeling down in the mouth and generally out of sorts, it’s tempting to think that a large glass of wine and a family-sized bar of chocolate will revive your spirits. Curiously, you’d be half right. Dark chocolate can temporarily boost your mood thanks to the caffeine, which acts as a stimulant, and the sugar which acts as a trigger for the release of seratonin, a chemical in the brain that makes us feel good. However, there are other foods that you can add to your diet that will make you feel good without also piling on the pounds.

This amino acid helps regulate sleep patterns, appetite and mood. If you eat foods that are high in tryptophan, you instantly give your serotonin levels a boost. Foods rich in tryptophan include turkey, milk – that’s why having a milky drink before bedtime is a good idea – soy milk, red and lean meat such as beef and chicken. Cheese, and in particular Gruyere, is very rich in tryptophan. Other major foods high in tryptophan include fruits such as bananas, all kinds of nuts including hazelnuts and walnuts, fish, eggs, yoghurt, avocados and seeds, particularly pumpkin, sesame and sunflower.

Vitamin B6
Also known as pyridoxine, this feel-good vitamin is one of the most important in the B-complex family. It is necessary for growth and for almost all our body functions, it helps produce energy and lifts your mood. Foods that are rich in vitamin B include chillies, hazelnuts and cashew nuts, wheatgerm and bran, honey and breakfast cereals. A tasty way to boost your intake would be to make a smoothie with low fat yoghurt, crushed ice, cashew nuts and a tablespoon of wheatgerm. Add a banana and you’ll also be giving your potassium levels a lift.

Vitamin D
It’s called the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because we are able to absorb it by exposure to the sun. Nevertheless, we must ensure that we also obtain our supplies from the range of foods that provide it to remain healthy and energetic. Foods high in vitamin D include oily fish like salmon and eggs, as well as fortified foods such as breakfast cereals. Liver is another good source. Boosting our levels is important because even though the rays in sunshine are converted by our skin into this valuable substance, the UK climate is not the best for providing good ultraviolet rays. Therefore we must eat vitamin D rich foods in order to avoid deficiency. And what does vitamin D do? It’s main function is to build healthy bones and teeth, as well as release energy in the body – a lack of it may well lead to fatigue and sluggishness.

This is the neurotransmitter molecule (bear with us!) that is renowned for being involved in feelings of lurve and pleasure, among other functions such as emotional intelligence. It also keeps us alert, active and motivated and helps us to concentrate, too. Food does not contain dopamine. In fact, dopamine cannot transfer from the blood into the brain. Food does contain an important precursor to dopamine that can result in an increase in natural dopamine production. This precursor is an amino acid called tyrosine, which was first observed in a cheese protein called casein. ‘Tyros’ is Greek for cheese. So, foods high in this include cheese and eggs. Other good sources include salmon and turkey, soy and soy protein. One of the highest sources is spirulina, a vegetable apparently, also known as blue-green algae. If your local supermarket is out, then try beans (particularly lima), nuts such as almonds and pumpkin seeds and bananas and avocados.

It’s a neurotransmitter chemical found in the brain, but produced in the body. Seratonin aids nerve and brain cells to function properly and its importance is paramount. Its absence (or low level) in the brain can affect appetite, mood, sleep patterns and sexual desire. Depression can also be caused when serotonin levels drop. Maintaining a consistent level is vital and eating foods rich in serotonin is one natural way. Carbs (bread, pasta and potatoes) play the biggest role in producing serotonin. Other foods include dark chocolate turkey, eggs, oats and mangos.

Instant ways to feel good

  • SMILE and the world will smile with you, it’s a fact!
  • FLIRT Harmless banter that makes you feel attractive will give you a boost.
  • PRAISE Give someone a genuine compliment and see how it ups their confidence.
  • FRIENDS Spend time with people who really care about you.
  • SEX The loving kind that makes you feel confident, sexy and alive.
  • SUN If the great orb in the sky is out then join it. The warmth and light will lift your mood and spirit. 

Pictures: getty images

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