Eat yourself happy.
What we eat can have a profound effect on our general wellbeing. The foods we eat influence the population of our gut microflora. For example, sugary foods will encourage the growth of undesirable microbes and fibre rich foods the friendly bacteria. Much of the serotonin in our bodies is actually produced in the gut. Serotonin often referred to as the ‘happy chemical’ plays important roles in the brain’s biochemistry and is intimately involved in facilitating sustained and deep sleep, maintaining healthy mood and self-confidence and even supporting a healthy appetite and social engagement!
Although food that are high in simple carbohydrates, such as pasta, potatoes, crisps, cakes bread, pastries, etc, may make us feel good in the short time, over time eating a diet with a high glycaemic load can lead to the development of insulin resistance and increased insulin sensitivity. Insulin resistance within the brain can have several detrimental effects on cognitive function.
In order to eat ourselves happy, have energy and optimal brain function we need a diet that is:
- Low in sugar, moderate in starchy carbohydrates
- Contains good healthy fats, including the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA
- Plenty of vegetables, which are high in vitamins, minerals and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. They are also high in fibre, which is important for the gastrointestinal system.
One of the areas I notice that my clients often struggle is breakfast. It is all too easy to reach for toast, cereals or a breakfast cereal bar to eat on the go. These foods contain little nutrition and create a spike in our blood sugars which eventually leads to a slump mid-morning and a need for a mid-morning pick me up. Sound familiar?
Try these mood boosting breakfasts:
Easy peasy super quick breakfast oats:
Place 40g porridge oats in a bowl with water. Cover with a plate and leave over night.
Next morning sprinkle with some blueberries and a generous sprinkle of seeds and nuts like walnuts, sunflower, sesame, or pumpkin seeds for a lovely boost in calcium, magnesium and zinc!
Did you know Eating blueberries in the morning can help keep the brain active later in the day? Research has shown that eating blueberries at breakfast helps improve concentration and memory up to five hours later. Studies have also shown that blueberries can provide a short-term boost in the brain function of children.
I like a smoothie in the morning. However, shop brought smoothies often contain too much fruit so can play havoc with your blood sugars. Try this one instead for a filling breakfast that keeps you going until lunchtime!
2 sticks celery
1 large cucumber
1 table spoon almond butter
½ an avocado
Small pieces of ginger
Add water or coconut water depending on the consistency you like.
Blend and enjoy
The brain is 60% fat, so It is crucial that the right types of fats are consumed as bad fats contribute to inflammation within the body. One of the most important fats for the body is omega 3. Unfortunately, most of our diets fall short on this! Chia seeds are high in this fat so why not try my chia seed pudding. It can be enjoyed at breakfast or even as a pudding. To see this recipe and others – please visit my website https://ifeoma.uk/recipes/
Ify Akpuaka is Registered Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist, Yoga Teacher and Licensed Brain Health Practitioner. She offers nutrition and lifestyle programmes to help optimise your health, using cutting-edge science alongside natural therapies to create truly bespoke well-being plans.
To find out more about Iffy please visit her website or follow her on Facebook or Instagram