There’s evidence to suggest that when our guts are inflamed, it can affect our mood. Some of the small proteins that control this inflammation are known as cytokines. Important for many bodily functions (like mediating and regulating immunity) an elevated level of cytokines has also been linked to depression (the Cytokine Hypothesis). There may also be a link between the bacteria in our digestive systems and anxiety.
Food can have a big impact on our mood, and mental well-being – so what foods should we be eating to support our mental health and total sense of ‘well’?
Sources of nutrients to ease anxiety:
Leafy green vegetables, whole grains, eggs, poultry, milk, soybeans
|Vitamin C||Oranges, kiwi fruit, bell peppers, parsley, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale|
|Magnesium||Pumpkin, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, leafy green vegetables|
|Complex Carbohydrates||Oatmeal, whole-grain breads, brown rice, kumara, carrots, green vegetables|
|Healthier Fats||Salmon, tuna, walnuts, flax-seed, beans, tofu, olive oil, avocados, almonds, cashews & peanuts|
|Protein Sources||Fish, shellfish, skinless chicken, dairy, lean cuts of red meat, eggs, legumes, tofu, soy milk|
|Serotonin & Tryptophan enhancers||Poultry, milk, bananas, oats, cheese, nuts, peanut butter, sesame seeds|
Comforting Creamy Chicken and Brown Rice Soup
Brown rice delivers a hit of B vitamins, while the protein from chicken can help with making neurotransmitters in our brains, as well as selenium which can cheer us up and help our mental functioning. Loaded with celery (feel free to add more than the recipe) which has been used to treat anxiety for thousands of years.
- 1 Tablespoon salted butter
- 2 celery sticks, thinly sliced
- 2 carrots, thinly sliced
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 sprigs of thyme (or use a teaspoon of chopped thyme if you can’t get sprigs)
- 1 Tablespoon whole wheat flour
- 3 handfuls of brown rice
- 2 cups of chicken stock (add more depending on how thick you like your soups)
- 2 chicken breasts cooked (poaching is easiest)
- 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
- 2 Tablespoons cream
- Melt the butter in a large pan and add the celery, carrots, onion, garlic and thyme. Cook over a moderate heat for 8 minutes, stirring often.
- Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook for a further 2 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. You may need to add a tablespoon of the stock if it seems to be sticking too much.
- Rinse the rice thoroughly and then add to the pan. Gradually stir in the stock, adding water if the mixture seems too thick. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently over a low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the cooked chicken and parsley and simmer for another 10 minutes or until rice is cooked.
- Take off the heat and stir in the cream.
- Pour into bowls and Enjoy some comforting brain food!
With thanks and appreciation to Rachel Kelly & Alice Mackintosh, For more tips see The Happiness Diet.