Can Changing Your Diet Make You Happier? |

Can Changing Your Diet Make You Happier?

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With reports from the NHS revealing one in four people will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives, depression, anxiety and other issues are likely to affect us at some stage. And whilst therapy and medication is the principal – and most advisable – course of treatment, there are some sufferers who respond to holistic therapies, too. Just like exercise boosts your body, adopting a healthy, balanced and nutritious diet, alongside treatment, can help to rebalance your mood.
In fact, psychologists and nutritionists are now beginning to draw links between a healthy diet and reduced symptoms of depression. Psychological therapist Emma Kenny, CEO and Founder of Make your Switch told the Evening Standard: "What we put in our bodies affects our mental health and general wellbeing. Food has been evidenced to help in the management and, to some degree, prevention of mental health problems, including depression. [...] It is estimated that nine out of ten people struggling with depression have digestive problems and changing their diet could vastly improve their debilitating prognosis.” Dr Rosa Schnyer, wellness coach and nutritional counsellor, second’s Emma’s statements: “If your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, it’s likely your brain isn’t getting the nutrients that it needs to function properly.
Whilst a change in diet is not a cure for depression, there are some simple changes you can make to help you feel happier, healthier and achieve a more positive state of mind. We spoke to nutritionist Shona Wilkinson to find out the best mood-boosting foods…

Green Tea

Green tea contains some caffeine, which gives you a bit of a lift, but it also contains the amino acid theanine. Theanine can have a relaxing effect and may help to relieve anxiety and mental stress by increasing your levels of serotonin (the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter that helps us remain calm), dopamine (responsible for reward and pleasure), and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA, which has a relaxant effect). If you don’t like green tea or prefer to avoid caffeine, try theanine capsules, taking one when you feel particularly anxious.


Dark Chocolate

Chocolate contains several substances that may improve mood, including phenylethylamine, which can act as a brain neurotransmitter and affect your mood and pleasure. Chocolate also contains magnesium, one of the nutrients needed for the production of serotonin. Eating any food that you enjoy also stimulates endorphin release, which makes you feel good. Don’t overindulge in comfort foods though, especially very sugary or high-GI foods, as this will only make you feel worse later on as your blood sugar level drops – and can also lead to weight gain.


Whole grain Carbs

Whole grains such as rye crisp bread can help regulate levels of serotonin.


Oily Fish

Try to eat oily fish twice a week or snack on chia seeds, as fatty acids are great ‘brain’ food and help to fight mood swings. Our brain is 18% omega 3s, however, we don’t produce them naturally, so we have to get these brain-boosting nutrients from external sources like fish, seeds and nuts instead.



Nuts and seeds are a source of protein that aid the creation of neurotransmitters, which are responsible for keeping our mind and mood balanced.



Like nuts or seeds, eggs are another great source of protein which, when broken down in the body, make amino acids and help to produce neurotransmitters to balance our mood.



These are a good source of magnesium, which helps with efficient energy production while also helping to calm the nervous system.




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