We’ve all heard the expression “you are what you eat”, but can your diet really influence how you feel? Well, the answer is a resounding yes according to recent scientific studies, and it makes perfect sense. After all, we know that what we put in our bodies affects our physical health, so it only makes sense that it also affects our mental wellbeing. In fact, Cleopatra even put certain foods on her body to feel good, something we recreate in our spas today! By incorporating milk and honey into her beauty regime she kept her skin cleansed, soft, and youthful whilst taking some time out to destress and revitalise.
If you want to know some of the best foods to put a smile on your face and a spring in your step, then read on! From mood-boosting grains to anxiety-alleviating greens, we’ve got you covered, and one or two of them may surprise you…
Could your daily cup of java be responsible for more than just getting you moving in the morning? It seems so, according to several recent health studies!
One study featured in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, found that caffeine acts as a mild antidepressant by boosting production of the happy-making neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, as well as stimulating the central nervous system. To get the benefits, you need to be sure to drink between 2-4 cups of coffee a day. Time to put the kettle on!
Try it: If you fancy a change from instant coffee, consider buying your own espresso machine. They are inexpensive and will save you a fortune in expensive high-street coffee shops.
If you eat a lot of white pasta and bread and regularly feel like you’re trudging through quicksand, these carbs could be the culprit. Refined carbs such as white pasta cause blood sugar to rise, quickly followed by a huge drop in insulin levels, and this spike leads to tiredness, weakness, and an overall feeling of ‘blah’.
A wonderful substitute for these energy robbers—one that will leave you feeling energised and perky for hours—is quinoa, a complex carb superfood that delivers a steady stream of energy throughout the day.
On top of that, quinoa contains quercetin, a potent plant flavonoid that has been found to have a positive effect on the mood according to medical experts.
Try it: A quick and easy way to enjoy quinoa is in the delicious and easy-to-make salad tabbouleh. We particularly like this recipe from BBC Good Food.
Alternatively, quinoa works beautifully to bulk out curries and stews, such as in Ella Mill’s tasty and nutritious Chickpea, Quinoa and Turmeric Curry.
If you want a powerful mood booster, consider snacking on plenty of walnuts. Not only are walnuts delicious, they are also one of the richest sources of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids available, and study after study, including this one by the American Journal of Nutrition has proven that omega-3 fatty acids reduce the symptoms of depression by supporting brain function.
One of the fatty acids found in walnuts, alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), can’t be produced by our bodies, so it must come from our diet. As well as making you super healthy by strengthening your bones, ALA also stimulates the production of serotonin, a powerful mood stabiliser that increases feelings of happiness and wellbeing.
Try it: Walnuts are easy to incorporate into your daily diet. Simply grab a handful on the way out of the door in the morning, or add a handful to your favourite smoothie when you feel like you need a boost of happiness!
4. Dark chocolate
Now, here’s a suggestion we can really get on board with! Thanks to its ability to reduce the stress hormone cortisol, dark chocolate is an excellent snack if you’re feeling stressed or anxious, according to research carried out by the Journal of Proteome Research.
The research even recommended a daily intake of 40g for two weeks to decrease stress levels- we already feel happier! On top of that, dark chocolate is packed with helpful chemicals such as tryptophan, an amino acid that helps stimulate the brain’s centre of wellbeing and happiness.
Try it: We’re sure we don’t need to tell you how to enjoy dark chocolate, though if you feel like a change from eating it straight from the bar, consider melting it with milk to make a delicious, creamy hot chocolate, or melt some in a pan and dip in some nice juicy strawberries. Yum!
Not only does an apple a day keep the doctor away, but it can also help lift your overall mood too! The University of Warwick’s researchers found that eating apples, as well as other fruits and vegetables, can leave you feeling more calm, energised, and happier overall.
Try it: Obviously, apples can be enjoyed on their own, either whole or cut up into slices. To make your apple even more nutritious, pair it with heart-healthy almond butter for a nice hit of protein. Delicious!
Popeye taught us all that spinach makes you strong, but did you know that spinach can also have an amazing effect on your state of mind? This is because it’s packed with mood-boosting folic acid, plus magnesium, often referred to as the “mood mineral” thanks to its ability to decrease feelings of depression and anxiety.
Try it: If you find it difficult to fit a lot of spinach into your diet, consider putting it into a smoothie. We love this Groovy Green Smoothie from All Recipes. Not only does it contain lots of spinach, it also calls for another happiness booster, the humble apple.
Alternatively, spinach and eggs are a match made in heaven, so give this recipe for Spinach and Baked Eggs from BBC Good Food a try…you won’t regret it!
As science has proven, when we treat our body well by eating the right foods, we not only improve our health but also improve our state of mind. In fact, anytime we do things that are enjoyable and good for our body, our brain is rewarded too, thanks to the dopamine that’s released anytime we perform an action that the body finds pleasurable.
Eating well and exercising are great steps to lift your mood, and if you’re looking to take time out to increase your well-being, why not also try out one of our La Sultane massages after a busy week? Each treatment promotes relaxation and relieves the body of everyday muscle tension, plus restores calm and balance to both your body and mind!