Did you know… the foods we eat can influence the central nervous system (neurotransmitter) pathways in our bodies which ultimately affect the way we think and feel? Studies have found that natural substances in food have the ability to send messages to the brain to enhance mood, reduce stress, and anxiety, as well as improving memory and concentration.
One of these main substances is tryptophan, an amino acid, which naturally occurs in many protein containing foods. Tryptophan is essential for the production of serotonin which is a ‘happy hormone’.
When you combine this with carbohydrates, it improve the passage of serotonin to the brain thus giving credence to the adage that ‘we are what we eat’ as it helps to balance our moods and stress levels.
Foods highest in tryptophan
Turkey, banana, baked beans, chicken and beef, lentils, tofu, soy milk, and dairy products.
Foods with complex carbohydrates
Oats, quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat, and wholegrain breads
Try these mood boosting meal ideas
• Substitute processed cereal for rolled oats + soy/cows milk + 1/2 banana
• Baked beans on wholegrain toast
• Smoothie with soy milk, banana, organic yoghurt, strawberries, buckwheat
LUNCH & DINNER
• Turkey, chicken, tofu, or beef – add to salads, sandwiches & wraps
• Use brown rice instead of pasta
WHAT TO AVOID
• High saturated fats and fried foods – these can decrease blood flow to the brain; reducing alertness and concentration
• Caffeine and alcohol – these are nervous system stimulants which can worsen symptoms of anxiety
• Aspartame – an artificial sweetener which has been shown to block the production of serotonin in the brain (stick to Stevia or Xylitol)