We are what we eat. Food plays an important role in not only our physical health, but also in determining the emotions we feel. Our gut talks to our brain and can have a huge effect on the moods and emotions we experience. Here is some advice from a TELUS Health MyCare™ Registered Dietitian to help boost your mood through food:
Protein is the building block of neurotransmitters, including serotonin, our "happy chemical". Protein-rich foods, particularly those rich in the amino acid tryptophan, help to boost our serotonin levels. Examples include dairy, poultry (chicken, turkey), nuts, seeds, and legumes. Include at least one protein-rich food with meals and snacks.
B vitamins are also involved in making neurotransmitters including serotonin. Foods rich in B vitamins include nuts and seeds, citrus fruits, whole grains (eg. oats, brown rice), lean meats, and green leafy vegetables. Variety is key.
Fiber-rich foods are important for the gut-brain axis, whichis the connection between our brain and our digestive tract (sometimes referred to as our "second brain"). One of the best ways to ensure you have a healthy gut and in turn a healthy brain is to eat a fiber-rich diet that feeds the good bacteria in the gut. This means plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Probiotic foods such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, tempeh, and sauerkraut are also beneficial to the gut and brain.
Omega-3 fats reduce inflammation in the body and are key structural components of brain cells, particularly DHA/EPA (types of omega-3). Research shows that omega-3 may help to reduce anxiety and depression. The best dietary source of DHA/EPA is fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and trout. Aim for 2-3 servings per week of these types of fish, or consider taking an omega-3 supplement.
If you have dietary questions or need nutrition advice for your lifestyle, TELUS Health MyCare™ offers virtual consultations with Registered Dietitians*. Get your food and nutrition questions answered in the comfort of your home.
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*Users must be 16 years or older to access a dietitian appointment. Counselling appointments require additional payment of $120 plus applicable tax. Users under some employer-sponsored solutions will not pay a fee for the service. Any payments for appointments must be paid using a valid credit card. An in-app receipt will be provided for you to claim for reimbursement if applicable.