Happy foods

Tuesday May 6, 2008

We all have days where we feel a bit down or under the weather but simple foods like bananas, pineapples and chicken could improve your moods instantly, revealed a recent study.

Nutritionist Joanna McMillan-Price joins the show to discuss how your diet links with the way you feel.

"Foods like mung beans, lobster, turkey, asparagus, sunflower seeds, cottage cheese, pineapple, tofu, spinach and bananas could improve your moods," says nutritionist Joanna McMillan-Price.

Such foods are high in tryptophan - an amino acid converted by the body into the feel-good chemical serotonin which can improve mood and wellbeing.

"The body cannot produce tryptophan so unless we get enough through our diets we may suffer a deficiency, leading to low serotonin levels which are associated with mood disorders, anxiety, cravings and irritable bowel," she explains.

People anti-depressant medication should consult their Doctor before taking supplements containing Tryptophan.

Joanna McMillan Price reveals which foods to eat to improve our moods and overall health.

Foods high in Tryptophan:

Tryptophan is available in mung beans, lobster, turkey, asparagus, sunflower seeds, cottage cheese, pineapple, tofu, spinach, banana, corn, cereal grains, legumes (peas and beans), eggs, dairy products, some nuts and seeds, chicken, sardines and fresh tuna.

Other trigger happy foods:

Folate:

"Folate is a B vitamin well-known for its role in preventing spina-bifida in babies. But now researchers are studying this vitamin and its link with depression," explains Ms McMillan-Price.

"People who suffer from depression may have lower than normal blood foliate levels. Your body only stores small amounts of folate, so it's important to eat folate-rich foods every day," she says. "Boost your folate levels by eating plenty of spinach, peas, beetroot, cabbage, avocadoes, kidney beans, butter beans, folate-fortified cereals and breads, broccoli, oranges, nuts and seeds."

Omega-3 fats:

"While this is a fairly new area, researchers now believe there may be a link between a good intake of omega-3 fats and a lower incidence of depression," he reveals. "Good sources of omega-3 fats include linseed, canola oil, soybeans, walnuts and oily fish."

"Try some soy and linseed bread, enjoy a handful of walnuts, make a stir-fry with tofu or try a fruit smoothie based on soy milk - place soy milk, fruit and a dash of honey in a blender and combine until smooth."

Breakfast:

"You probably already know breakfast is good for concentration, memory and energy levels, but eating breakfast may also have a positive effect on your mood and help you feel better throughout the morning," she says.

Enjoy high fibre, wholegrain breads and cereals, fruit, yoghurt, milk or calcium-enriched soymilk for breakfast.

Be active:

"It can be difficult to find the time to be active, but it can help you to think clearer, feel less tired and lift your mood," she suggests. "Some people actually report a state of euphoria after a good workout. Even if it just takes your mind off negative thoughts, it's worth it. "

"Take your dog for a walk, join a gym, play a sport or simply enjoy some exercise outdoors with your family," she suggests. "Aim for around 30 minutes of physical activity on most days. Sound hard? It is easier than you think and will help keep both your mind and body healthy."

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