Today on Dr. Amy Lindsey's B-sides to Health, we are going to discuss Mood & Food....
Everyone knows that ice cream makes you feel better. & most people would agree they feel better instantly with some chocolate. Now if you go Chocolate Ice-cream? You can't lose.... right?
While this instant sugar hit is a classic example of food that makes you feel good in the moment, let's dive deeper into nutrients that support your nervous system & may play a role in mental health!
Some people who experience fatigue, sluggishness, lack of motivation, anxious thoughts & depressed mood have nutrient deficiencies! That's right. The body may not have enough of what it needs to make the chemicals in our brains that have an effect on mood.
Many of the chemicals in our bodies that have an effect on mood are known as Neurotransmitters. A couple of the most famous neurotransmitters are Dopamine & Serotonin. Dopamine is a "feel good" hit to our brains. It also motivates us to seek food. Serotonin helps us feel safe & also is correlated with feeling good. Having low amounts of serotonin can lead to sugar cravings, anger, aggressiveness & a depressed mood.
Neurotransmitters such as Serotonin & Dopamine are made from amino acids & undergo processes that involve the help of several minerals & vitamins. Dopamine is derived from the amino acid, Phenylalanine. Serotonin is derived from the amino acid, Tryptophan. Both are essential amino acids, meaning we must get them from food. Our bodies don't make them on our own.
What do we do to make sure we get enough amino acids & enough vitamins & minerals to make our Neurotransmitters?
1. Eat plenty of protein throughout the day. Proteins contain a variety of amino acids for the body to use.
2. Make sure you have enough B-vitamins in your diet as they play essential roles in your body transforming those amino acids into neurotransmitters
3. Get enough minerals in your diet. A great source of Magnesium, Calcium, Iron & Zinc can be found in Green Leafy vegetables such as Swiss Chard, Kale, & Collard Greens. Be sure to eat with an acid on them such as lemon juice or balsamic vinegar to pull the minerals out.
4. Go easy on the sugar first thing in the morning & late at night. While sugar cravings are super common, they are usually telling us that we need to eat something, but not necessarily sugar! It's our body telling us it needs nutrients. Grab a high protein snack instead.
5. Eat plenty of fiber. Did you know that we have a whole microbiome of bugs living in our gut? Their preferred food is fiber. Our microbiome is responsible for making most of our Serotonin for our body!
As you all know I'm a big fan of balance. So eat your green leafy vegetables, your protein, B-vitamins & fiber... but also... go for that bowl of chocolate ice-cream! You don't need any research to tell you it makes you feel better.
Have a great week!
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