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October 11, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Diet and Mood with the Counselling Service

Sometimes it seems hard to get away from information about food and health. The media is full of reports about individual foods or whole dietary regimes that may be useful or harmful in various ways. It can be easy to switch off to all the messages.

However what we eat is important in many ways. The science of diet and health is complicated, and doesn’t lend itself to simple stories. However we can say some things about diet and mood with confidence. So what do we know about diet and mood, and what can we make some educated guesses about?

“Mediterranean Diet”

This may not be the most exciting news you’ve ever heard, but the sort of diet that is good for your
health in other ways is also good for your mental health. Following a “Mediterranean diet” improves
our mood and reduces the risk of depression. It’s helpful to eat more “whole food” including fruit,
vegetables and fish, and less “processed food”. Eat smaller quantities of meat, processed dairy and
sweetened foods.

Food types that may boost mood

Diet is complex, and there’s lots we don’t understand about it. Beware of messages about expensive super foods though. Let’s look at some foods that may have particular benefits for mood.

  1. Oily fish. Fish contains high concentrations of Omega 3 fatty acids. Some studies of fish oil for depression have suggested it’s helpful, though not all. Fish is probably a useful component of the Mediterranean diet. There’s also evidence for fish oil boosting cardiovascular, joint and brain functioning. Canned salmon has plenty of the Omega 3 goodness.
  2. Green Vegetables. They contain the vitamin folate, and lots of other goodness.
  3. Protein. One of the brain chemicals antidepressant medicines boost is serotonin. This is made from trytophan, one of the amino acids that form proteins. Try low fat proteins such as beans, pulses, fish and chicken.

Enjoy food

Don’t eat foods you hate; don’t banish foods you love. Find ways to prepare healthy food you enjoy.

Improving our mood isn’t just about being happier. It’s about having the energy and concentration we need to live our lives to the full. If we eat well, we are likely to be happier, and also to have the energy and concentration we need to live our lives to the full.


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