My Top 5 simple dietary and lifestyle tips to help your mood and mental health stay in balance
Top 5 simple tips to help your mental health
27th June 2022 is the start of World Wellbeing Week. A yearly campaign to raise awareness of the importance to take greater care of our overall wellbeing. The ability to take control of our own health and to recognise when we are stressed, tired or emotionally overloaded.
I also believe it should give us the ability to tune in to our body’s signals and spot the signs and symptoms – or little niggles as I call it – that our lifestyle may be sending us out of balance. This is both physical, emotional and mental.
Today I am sharing my Top 5 simple dietary and lifestyle tips to help your mood and mental health stay in balance
The role of protein to support a calm and happy mood
Try to include more tryptophan rich foods in your diet, as this can help to increase levels of serotonin. Serotonin is our feel good chemical (neurotransmitter) in the brain – our “happy hormone” – helping to keep us calm, in control and improve our mood.
Tryptophan cannot be made by the body (it’s known an essential amino acid) so we need to obtain it from our foods.
Our best food sources are:
- Seeds, especially pumpkin seeds
The average person needs about 50g of protein a day. Are you sure you are getting enough?
Are you balancing your fats to support your brain health?
Your brain is 60% EPA/DHA fats from Omega-3. These are the building blocks for the structure and function of the brain. They are important for memory and mood, concentration, learning and much more.
You may think you have plenty of Omega-3 foods in your diet, but conversion of Omega-3 to EPA/DHA is poor (only 10% gets converted). Choose foods naturally high in EPA and DHA to avoid the conversion issue and maintain the levels pf these fats that your body needs.
You should aim to eat 3 portions of cold water fish like trout, sardines, salmon, mackerel and herring every week to maintain good levels in the body. Don’t like these fish?! Then it is important to choose high quality fish oil supplements containing 750-1000 mg combined EPA/DHA. Don’t settle on just the Omega-3 levels. Check also that your fish oil is screened for heavy metals (mercury, lead, cadmium, PCBs and more) as our seas are so polluted.
Vegans and Vegetarians: Whilst flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts are high in Omega-3, they do not provide good levels of EPA and DHA, so algae based supplements are a good alternative to look for.
Are you a coffee lover?
Caffeine intake can make you irritable and affect your mood. It can also interfere with good quality deep sleep. It’s a stimulant-acting as a stressor on the body. This results in a release of adrenaline, quickly raising your heartbeat, and definitely will not keep you calm.
Switch your caffeine drinks (tea, coffee, green tea, colas) to natural fruit and herbal teas; very diluted cordials and aim to consume more water.
Yes – I did include green tea. Whilst less caffeine than coffee, it can still act as a stimulant, so be careful how much you consume each day if you think you are sensitive to caffeine. Standard tea has similar caffeine levels to coffee.
Overall, a fluid intake of 2L from hydrating sources is your aim to avoid dehydration.
Dehydration can quickly reduce your energy, concentration and effect your mood without you realising why.
Why not flavour your water with mint, cucumber or lemon for a cooling Summer drink?
Create a Sleep Routine
Do you pay attention to your sleep hygiene? If you struggle to fall asleep and/or wake in the night and struggle to get back to sleep, then this is for you. Poor sleep is essential for our mental (and physical health). And we can really feel the effects of lacking sleep night after night.
It starts with creating a routine. Aim to go to bed at the same time every night and rise at the same time every morning. Don’t stay up late as this can really upset your natural circadian rhythm.
Avoid the use of gadgets in the evening, as blue light can alter the ability to raise melatonin and get a good night’s sleep. Stay off social media too if it impacts your mood. It’s what may whir round your brain at 3am in the morning. LED lights found commonly in our homes- as more environmentally friendly – emit far more blue light, adding to the problem.
Researchers compared reading before bedtime from an e-reader compared to reading a printed book. The former caused a 10-minute delay in sleep onset and increased tiredness the next morning.
Open the window, so the bedroom is cool. Consider using a fan, as the white noise can induce a sense of calm. Introduce a calming evening routine such as quiet reading time, a relaxing bath, gentle music or yoga.
Look after your gut health
That feeling of butterflies in your stomach is not in your imagination! Your gut can reflect how you’re feeling.
90% of our serotonin is made in the gut. There is a direct link between the gut and the brain via the enteric nervous system. This nervous system communicates back and forth with the brain, linking cognitive and emotional centres with the intestines.
It has long been known that those with digestive symptoms like IBS may experience anxiety and depression, and science is catching up. Researchers are discovering the impact of how different microbes in the gut influence our feelings and wellbeing.
To support the health of your gut, focus on eating a plant based diet. This does not have to be vegan, but aim for plenty of different vegetables every day that provide fuel for beneficial bacteria. Some vegetables have prebiotic properties, which provide specific foods over and above other vegetables. Ideally, we should eat 40 different plant foods every week and consume ten portions of vegetables (with a little fruit) every day. Do look at my other blog posts on how to take care of a healthy gut – it’s a huge subject area and one we need to prioritise.
Need help or advice? Book a free Discovery Call
If you suffer any symptoms you can’t resolve or you are unsure about your diet and health, why not book a free discovery call? Simply visit www.peytonprinciples.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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