In this shorter post, I wanted to share some of the insights I have learnt and knowledge I developed over the last couple of months through listening to a whole range of fitness, nutrition and lifestyle focused podcasts.
I realise more than ever that eating well is extremely important, not only for physical health, but mental health too. Making positive changes to your diet can actually have a big influence on your mood and how you feel psychologically.
Serotonin & Tryptophan
The ability to concentrate and feeling positive, can all be affected by serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps to relay messages from one area of the brain to another, influencing a variety of psychological functions. I see this as the ‘the happy hormone’; it essentially helps to regulate our mood. I didn’t realise before that serotonin cannot be made without the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan can be found in a number of foods and can help improve how we feel mentally and how functioning psychologically. Foods that I personally eat that contain this include walnuts, eggs and cheese.
Ensuring that we have a well-balanced diet with plenty of variety will help our bodies feel great, physically and mentally. In addition to this, things like B vitamins, glucose and omega-3 fatty acids, can help with our cognitive function.
We need B vitamins to get or make energy from our food. Lack of B vitamins may result in feeling lethargic and more severely cause depression. Sources of B vitamins include whole grains, eggs, leafy greens, beans and peas. I also regularly sprinkle Nutritional Yeast over my food, not only because it tastes great almost like cheese, but also because it provides me with additional B12 which is often absent in a veggie-based diet.
We need a sufficient amount of glucose in our diet to keep us feeling mentally energised. Glucose comes from carbohydrates that include fruit, vegetables, potatoes, bread, cereals, sugars and lactase in milk. Without enough glucose in the diet, our brains essentially run out of energy, leaving us feeling tired and mentally unaware.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are vital for our brain health. I often get my omega 3 from flaxseeds and some eggs as a result of not eating oily fish. Research suggests that 2 portions of oily fish per week can help improve brain memory and performance and cognitive and behavioural function.
Lastly, I feel that this is possibly the most important and most easy one to think about. I drink a lot of water and am constantly sipping throughout the day. I find that dehydration can lead to headaches, poor concentration, and fatigue.