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Feel Good Foods

Last weekend The Lismore Clinic held its first Well-Being Open Day, with lots of information and talks about natural ways to help improve your mood and energy levels. The event was very well attended, and it was a really interesting and enjoyable day.
One subject that people were very interested in was improving emotional wellbeing with nutrition. So in this week’s article we will look at some of the foods that can improve your mood and energy levels.


1. Omega 3 Essential fats

Some of the most important nutrients for wellbeing are the omega 3 essential fats, particularly EPA, which is found predominantly in oily fish. The best source is mackerel, followed by herrings, sardines and tuna. Salmon and trout are also rich in this important nutrient. It is advisable for people to eat oily fish at least 3 times per week, and for those suffering from depression or low mood, a supplement containing 500-1000mg EPA per day is also recommended.


Seeds such as Pumpkin and ground flax seeds (linseed) also contain omega 3 essential fats, but unfortunately only about 5% of the omega 3 fats in seed oils can be converted to EPA. Therefore, while seeds are a very useful source of protein and various minerals, flax seed oil is really not an ideal source of omega 3 essential fats.


2. B vitamins

B vitamins reduce anxiety, depression and fatigue. They are found mainly in whole grains (such as oats), beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds. Vitamin B12 is predominantly found in animal foods such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy produce.  To improve mood and energy levels, take a vitamin B complex supplement, which provides 25mg-50mg of B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6, and at least 100mcg of folic acid and 10mcg of B12 and biotin. Vitamin B supplements are best taken in the morning.


3. Magnesium

Magnesium reduces anxiety and insomnia, and improves energy levels. It is found in nuts, seeds and chocolate, which is why people with magnesium deficiency often experience chocolate cravings. Raw cacao or good quality dark chocolate in moderation can help to boost magnesium levels. Alternatively, take 100-150g Magnesium citrate or Magnesium maleate (which are more readily absorbed that other forms of magnesium) two or three times daily.


4. Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an amino acid which is found in protein-rich foods such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, fish, eggs and meats (particularly turkey). Tryptophan is the precursor of seratonin, the happy hormone. Low seratonin levels cause depression, anxiety and sleep disturbance, and orthodox antidepressants work by increasing the activity of seratonin. However, increasing the amount of tryptophan in your diet can naturally boost your seratonin levels.


5. Vitamin D

Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is essential for maintaining a positive mood and good energy levels. The best source of vitamin D is sunshine, but most people do not get enough sun exposure, either due to spending too much time indoors, or because of over-use of sun-block. To naturally increase your vitamin D levels, get some sensible sun exposure, without sun-block: 15-20 minutes per day with minimal clothing at around 11 am is ideal. Apply sun-block after 15-20 minutes to avoid burning if you plan on staying outside for longer.


In next week’s article we will take a look at how what you eat and the way you eat might be contributing to low mood, anxiety and irritability, and what to do about it.