Following a diet that consists of clean protein, vegetables, fruit and ample water is usually sufficient for maintaining general health. If you want to fine tune that diet to be more specific for mood support, there are various nutrients that should be included more frequently. These nutrients include omega-3 fats, amino acids, B vitamins, iron and magnesium.
I will summarize the foods first and if you are interested in the how’s and why’s, read on.
Salmon, Swiss chard,seaweed, flax seeds, lettuce/spinach, almonds,eggs, avocado, beans(especially black-eyed peas and garbanzo), molasses,broccoli, quinoa/brown rice, and lean and clean meats.
Omega-3 fats, specifically EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), are an integral part of the nervous system and brain. Each cell in the brain requires EPA to form its outer membrane. Omega 3 fats also help create the sheath around all nerves. A correlation has been seen in studies between omega-3 deficiency and depression, bipolar disorder and post-partum depression. Foods such as fish (especially salmon), seafood, flax seeds, beans and walnuts are good sources of Omega-3 fats.
All proteins are made up of amino acids. These smaller components of proteins are necessary for the creation of hormones and neurotransmitters. Hormone imbalance is a known cause of emotional distress, so making sure we are able create what we need is important. Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that affect the way we feel emotionally. Some common neurotransmitters are serotonin, dopamine, and GABA. Since amino acids are precursors for all of these and more, so the ingestion of amino acids is absolutely essential for emotional health. Good sources of amino acids are fish, clean meats, beans, eggs, avocados and protein powders.
B vitamins, especially B12 and folate are helpful cofactors for the synthesis of energy in the body. B12 is difficult to absorb in the GI tract so sublingual tablets or injections of B12 can be useful if a true deficiency is present. Lean meats, eggs, seaweed, beans and nutritional yeast are good sources of B vitamins.
Iron carries oxygen in our blood cells. Iron deficiency is obviously linked to chronic fatigue and low motivation. Good sources of iron are lean meats, molasses, Swiss chard and beans.
Magnesium is a great mineral to help relax the mind and the body. It helps promote restful sleep and helps stave of anxiety. Good sources of magnesium are black-eyed peasand other beans, Swiss chard, almonds, brown rice and cashews.