Many people argue that health is all about the calories you consume, the exercise you do, and the focus you make on mental health and mindfulness or meditation. While these are all great things, of course, they aren’t (and shouldn’t be) your entire focus. The truth is that your gut health is where everything begins.
And, unfortunately, if you aren’t feeding your body healthy foods, you’ll struggle in all areas—fitness, mental stability, emotions/mood, and exercise.
Having right nutrition strategies can not only help your body feel better, but also minimize anxiety and depression and balance your mood. Here are five food tips for better health:
Eat More Fat
While this may sound counterintuitive, we have to remember that fat makes up approximately 60% of the brain’s weight. The fatty acids found in food are important for our brain’s function!
The best dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids include seafood, nuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds. Consuming more omega-3 fatty acids will increase the level of healthy fats available to our brain, which can strengthen the protective layers around our nerve cells.
[Recipe Idea: For those who are looking for a great method to fuel their happiness in the morning, this green smoothie from The Butter Half is full of healthy fats in the form of hemp seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds!]
Consume Slow-Release Carbohydrates, Fiber, and Wholegrain
Our brains run off carbohydrates as glucose, so it makes sense to include more high-quality carbohydrates so we can give our brain a slow and steady supply of fuel.
Low Glycemic Index (GI) carbohydrates mean that we can gradually raise our blood sugar levels which will have a positive impact on our frame of mind. Choosing high GI foods such as refined sugar will cause a spike followed by a crash. Low GI foods such as most fresh fruit, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat pasta will all have a positive effect.
Improve Your Gut Bacteria
There have been many studies on the impact of our gut microbiome. And the link between our brain health and our gut health is so crucial! As 90% of serotonin—also known as the happy hormone—is made in our gut, it makes a lot of sense to nourish our gut bacteria in the right ways.
The best way to do this is to avoid high amounts of processed sugar, alcohol, and increase your healthy bacteria through drinks such as kombucha and kefir. You can also do it in ways such as increasing your fiber intake. The goal is to aim for approximately 30 grams of fiber every day!
Increase Lean Protein
Protein is so important, but protein-rich foods—such as chicken—is high in an amino acid tryptophan, which produces serotonin. Choline is another important ingredient that can produce neurotransmitters that can help with our mental abilities (which is found in eggs).
Add More Fruits and Vegetables
Plant-based foods are high in a number of antioxidants known as phytochemicals. Additionally, they are rich in fiber, which will have many beneficial roles for the body and the brain because they will protect against inflammation.
As you can see, if you really want to elevate and improve your mood, you have to take a closer look at your diet.