How Food Affects your Mood with Midwest Radio and Mental Health Ireland

How Food Affects your Mood with Midwest Radio and Mental Health Ireland

Mental Health Ireland have teamed up with Midwest Radio to encourage understanding and awareness around mental health topics and self care strategies. I was asked, as a member of the Family Centre team, to share some of my knowledge on “How food affects your mood”. These podcasts are aired on Monday mornings at 10.15 am, with my recording being shared on May 21st, 2018. I hope you gain some inspiration to review your food selection and improve your mental health from what you hear. To hear the previous Mental Health podcasts click here.

Aired: May 21st 2018

Monday 10.15 am

Listen back: Midwest Radio 

You can also find the transcipt below:

Have you ever noticed how you can become irritable when you haven’t eaten? How about that jittery feeling when you have had too many sugary foods? The buzz from that strong coffee you had? Or even the soothing feeling you got from the warm milk or shepherd’s pie.
The foods we eat really have a direct result on how we feel for many reasons but the key to understanding our food’s role in our mental health is to understand what our brain actually needs nutritionally in order to function. When we consider what our brain is made from, what fuels it and how it communicates with the rest of our body, we can then make well informed choices about the foods we choose to sustain our good mood and brain health.
The brain itself is made up of billions of brain cells and each cell is dependent on the fat family for their structure and function. These cells communicate to each other constantly. The messages sent are made from products of our proteins, vitamins and minerals. The energy to fuel to our brain function comes from our carbohydrate intake. From this you can see that our brain needs a balance of many nutrients in order to carry out it’s work; but what are the steps you can take to ensure you are looking after your brain health?
Overall, the quality of your food is really important. Often the foods we eat satisfy our hunger initially. They can give us a quick release of energy but when they are not rich in nutrients they give us very little else to fuel our body functions or bring vitality to systems. Our diets have changed so much over the past 50 years, as has the way food is being produced and sourced. The most nutritious foods have been proven to be fresh, in-season, whole, unprocessed foods. The more a food is processed, the more nutrients are lost therefore the most important part of your diet is your actual food sourcing. Remember the more nutrients the better! Our brain needs these nutrients in order to work.
There are certain food types that are particularly good for our brain & mood.
Wholegrains like brown rice, barley and millet, plus pulses like beans, peas and lentils are all nutrient rich & provide a solid fuel which provides energy to our body and brain. Wholegrains are slower to digest in our system therefore give us steady blood sugars for longer periods of time. Steady blood sugar means our mood also remains steady for longer…. so that means less irritability or that “HANGRY” feeling.
Fresh oily fish like salmon, trout, tuna offer us the good fats and the essential fatty acid Omega 3 which is very important for brain structure and function. Our brain is actually made up of 60% Fat so good fats are vital for a healthy mind. Other food sources of omega-3 fatty acids are flax oil, rapeseed oil, pumpkin seeds, soya beans & almonds.
Neurotransmitters (the ‘messengers’ in the brain) are made from amino acids, which in the diet come from protein. A deficiency in certain amino acids may leave someone feeling depressed, unmotivated and unable to relax. Protein rich foods like eggs, lean meat, free range chicken or turkey and beans are all good sources of amino acids.
Vitamins and minerals are vital for creating the good mood messages in the brain. B vitamins are extremely important and are found in wholegrains and veg, without which we cannot produce our feel good chemicals in our brain. In general, the vitamins and minerals that we need are available in our 5 a day fruit and veg, our nuts, seeds, wholegrains, lean meat and fish.
From this you can see in order to maintain your brain health it is necessary to fuel it with nutritious wholesome foods. I recommend you take notice of the food you eat today and how you feel afterwards. It can be a wonderful way to understand how your own body is responding to your food intake. If you would like to learn more about how to boost your mood with healthy food, contact the Family Centre, Castlebar on 094 9025900, where we regularly run a educational talk on the topic.


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