If you have days when you feel down and blue, you're not alone. Our fastpaced, modern lifestyle can easily zap energy levels. A report from the UK—Changing Diets, Changing Minds—highlights growing problems in the areas of mind, mood and wellbeing faced by industrialised countries. It reports a 20-fold increase in depression since 1945.
Apart from a breakdown in traditional social networks and relationships, financial stresses, and increased work hours, our diets have changed over the past 50 years. We eat less fresh, local produce and more refined and processed foods that hide unwanted sugars, fats and additives. And yet, what we feed ourselves can make a world of difference to how our brain functions and how we feel.
5 ways to lift your mood
1. Have a good breakfast every day—it will refuel your brain, lift your mood and lower stress levels. Breakfast is brain food!
2. Include foods rich in B vitamins, such as wholegrain breads and high-fibre breakfast cereals, green leafy vegetables, soybeans and other legumes, sunflower seeds and low-fat dairy or B12-fortified soy milk. Vitamin B12 and folate, in particular, can assist with low mood and depression.
3. Include foods rich in omega-3 fats to make you happy—try salmon and sardines (if personally acceptable), linseed, walnuts or omega-3 enriched eggs. The type of fats you eat can have a profound effect on your brain function, since 50 per cent of the brain is made up of fat! The cells that transmit signals in the brain are unusually rich in omega-3 fats, meaning this fat is really important. Depressed people have low levels in the body.
4. Drink plenty of water—aim for two litres daily. Dehydration causes fatigue.
Adequate water is needed to keep brain cells functioning optimally.
5. Activate yourself—walk daily to boost your self-esteem, distract you from negative thought processes and help you sleep better.