9 Key Foods for Emotional Wellness

Serious question for you… have you noticed how the food you eat affects your emotional state?

Did you even know that food can impact your mood?

You’ve probably heard the saying “you are what you eatbut you also feel what you eat.

Neurotransmitters are responsible for delivering messages between neurons and three of the most commonly studied are dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Dopamine is associated with happiness and pleasure. Norepinephrine is associated with our stress response. Serotonin is associated with regulating your moods such as anger and anxiety.

Interestingly enough, 95% of your serotonin is produced in your gut. Which is how your digestive system can guide your emotions. More specifically it is the bacteria found in your digestive tract that play a large role in your serotonin production. Knowing how these neurotransmitters affect our emotional wellness means that we can choose foods that support their function.



Here are my 9 Key Foods for Emotional Wellness:

  1. Fatty Fish (aka salmon, mackerel, sardines) - Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish play a key role in normal brain function because they are found abundantly in the cell membranes of our brain cells. Research has suggested that omega 3’s may affect serotonin and serotonin receptors in the brain as well.

  2. Low-Glycemic Carbohydrates – High fibre fruits and vegetables help stabilize blood sugar and prevent sudden decreases in energy and those hangry mood swings.

  3. Nuts & Seeds (aka almonds, walnuts & pumpkin seeds) – Not only contain protein and healthy fats that stabilize blood sugar that may also affect your mood but they are rich in zinc. A recent study found that participants with disordered eating were also zinc-deficient.

  4. Organic Berries - Antioxidants found in berries help fight inflammation that may be associated with mood disorders.

  5. Leafy Greens – They are rich in B vitamins that are known to help you manage stress! B vitamins have also been shown to improve moods by increasing levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.

  6. Fermented Foods (aka kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut) – Fermented foods support the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut which may increase your serotonin levels that regulate mood.

  7. 70%+ Dark Chocolate – Flavonoids found in dark chocolate may support mood regulation by increasing blood flow to your brain, reducing inflammation and boosting brain health. (I’m excited about this one too!)

  8. Bananas – They are high in vitamin B6 that helps synthesize those feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin.

  9. Clean Protein (aka grass-fed, free-range, organic) – Balancing protein in your meals throughout the day can not only stabilize blood sugar levels but play an important role in the production of those neurotransmitters.

In short, include more whole foods into your daily diet and it may help to stabilize your emotional health. I suggest creating awareness of how the foods you are eating are impacting your emotions. Get curious about what is happening inside your body when you're fuelling it.



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© 2020 by Jenna Lessner

Calgary, Alberta

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