Our health and happiness is dependent on many factors, and it is impossible to say both can be derived from any one source. However, it is true to say that the foods we consume play a huge role in both of these concepts.
Studies have shown that foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats are not only great for the health of the body, but also for boosting our happiness, and tackling anxiety and depression.
The way in which foods can improve the mood is connected to how the nutrients within the food impact the brain. There is much research to suggest that an ample presence of zinc, vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, magnesium and calcium is essential for maintaining a balanced mindset.
Let’s take a closer look at how these vitamins and minerals help with health and happiness, and discover which foods you can most easily find them in!
If your zinc levels are low then you are putting yourself at a heightened risk of a wide range of adverse health conditions. This essential mineral is present in practically every cell in the body. It is especially useful for helping to preserve the health of the gut. You will likely to be able to determine that your zinc levels are low if you are missing your appetite and experiencing feelings of sadness. You may also become anaemic*.
Foods that contain beneficial amounts of zinc include cashew nuts, walnuts, tofu, tempeh, pinto beans, kidney beans, and lentils.
Getting out and soaking up some sun is arguably the best way to keep your vitamin D stores high, but your diet has an influence also. This vitamin is important for the health of the immune system and for regulating moods. Vitamin D also interacts with calcium in the body to enhance bone health. Consuming foods that are high in this vitamin is especially important during the winter months when you are less likely to be exposed to an adequate amount of sunlight.
Mushrooms, tofu, fortified plant milks and fortified cereals are good choices when you are looking to increase your vitamin D consumption.
Vitamin B12 is essential for the existence of healthy red blood cells. When you are not giving your body enough of this key vitamin then you may become more susceptible to feelings depression*.
If you follow a plant-based diet then you are more at risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency. This is because it is naturally found in beneficial amounts in animal products. However, it is possible to take B12 supplements, and also to seek foods that have been fortified with it.
This vitamin is required when it comes to producing neurotransmitters – the handy little messengers that connect the brain with the rest of the body. If an adequate amount of B6 is not present in the body then you may begin to feel depressed or even confused!
If you want to up your intake of vitamin B6 then you can opt for chickpeas, watermelon, peanut butter, avocados, hemp seeds and spirulina.
Magnesium has hundreds of responsibilities within the body. A deficiency in this vitamin can cause a whole host of problems – not least of all a low mood! If you aren’t eating enough magnesium rich foods then you may be more prone to feelings of stress and irritability. This is largely because magnesium plays a key role in serotonin production.
There is an abundance of magnesium rich foods to choose from, such as spinach, almonds, bananas, sweet potatoes, beans and legumes.
Calcium is most well known for keeping the bones strong. It is also useful for combatting the symptoms of depression, and a deficiency of calcium can lead to a low mood.
There are several delicious foods that are high in calcium and easy to include in your diet. Try kale, broccoli, artichokes, oranges, figs and sesame seeds to easily increase your calcium intake.
Eating well is an amazing way to live well and is a perfect way to demonstrate self-love and kindness to yourself. Increasing your intake of some or all of the aforementioned foods is an easy way to improve your health and to support your own happiness. Click here to discover how exercise can also help!