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Healthy Minds Healthy College

Boost your mood with healthy food

March 25, 2015

two bagels

It may sound simple, but one way to help maintain a balanced mood is to eat healthy. Just as there is a relationship between food and our bodies, there is a connection between food and our minds.

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables is always good for us, but there are also other foods containing important vitamins and minerals that contribute to our overall mental health. Here are some to be sure to grab the next time you’re out grocery shopping!

  • Beans, peas and lentils 

Folic acid is one of the B vitamins that’s linked to the “feel good” chemicals in the brain — serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. This is why people with a folate-deficiency have been found to experience symptoms such as irritability, fatigue and depression.
B vitamins including folate are destroyed by substances such as alcohol, refined sugars and nicotine and are not stored in the body long-term so you have to make sure to consumer them regularly.

  • Nuts and seeds

People with low levels of selenium, an important mineral for overall brain functioning, tend to feel more anxious, depressed and tired. Brazil nuts as well as pumpkin and sunflower seeds are a great source of selenium, so head out to Bulk Barn this week and stock up! Your mood will thank you.

  • Whole grains

Zinc plays a role in modulating the brain and body’s response to stress and a zinc-deficiency can lead to symptoms of depression. Whole grains such as whole wheat bread and pasta, wild rice and quinoa contain high levels of zinc.

Whole grains are also naturally rich in an amino acid called tryptophan, which your body needs to produce serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin, the “feel-good hormone,” improves mood and relaxes brain and body, while melatonin helps establish and maintain steady sleep cycles. All in all, whole grains are pretty awesome so make sure you’re getting your three to five servings per day!

  • Salmon and tuna

Studies suggest that Omega-3 Fatty Acids have a mood-stabilizing effect and may protect against depression and other mood disorders. Other sources of omega-3 Fatty Acids include canola, flax seed or walnuts.

Click here for more information on the relationship between food and mental health.

Thanks to Kathleen McClinton, registered dietician, for sharing information and insight that helped to create this blog post.