You eat well. You workout more than ever. Yet you still wake up some mornings looking like you’ve just eaten your own body weight in crisps. Sound familiar?
Regardless of how well you eat and how much you exercise, if you have a food intolerance or other digestive problem, the chances are you suffer from bloating on a regular basis. If you’re like me, it can make you feel miserable and it can impact many areas of your life; from what clothes you can wear to how much energy you have. Therefore I wanted to share some ways in which you can naturally elevate your mood.
Natural ways to enhance your mood
A lot of articles out there will tell you that, to boost your mood, you need to cut out all things nice; sugar, caffeine, alcohol…you get the picture. In my mind, if you’re already cutting out dairy or gluten or yeast etc., the chances are the thought of cutting out any more of life’s little pleasures is only going to make you feel even more down.
So how else can you give your serotonin levels a boost?
- Improve your gut flora with probiotics. It’s a common misconception that the majority of serotonin is produced in the brain. In actual fact, up to 90% is produced in the digestive tract. It therefore makes sense that if your gut health is suffering, your levels of serotonin will suffer. One reason your gut may not be as healthy as it could be is due to the level of ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ bacteria present. Probiotics contain live bacteria and yeasts which can help to restore the natural balance in your gut. Probiotics are present in some foods such as yoghurts but due to my intolerances, I prefer to take a capsule.
- The importance of iodine. Until a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t aware that iodine deficiency was something that happened in the UK but it’s actually only recently that we have been classed as iodine sufficient. Our bodies need iodine to make thyroid hormones which control the body’s metabolism. In addition, iodine is needed for normal cognitive function and general well being so, unsurprisingly, being deficient in iodine is also linked to depression. This is particularly key if, like me, you have a dairy intolerance as dairy is one of the main dietary sources of iodine in the UK. Fortunately, I eat a lot of fish which naturally contains iodine but I have also started to sprinkle seaweed on my meals to make sure I’m getting the RDA of 150 mcg/day (note that the RDA is much higher for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding).
- Turmeric as a mood enhancer. Turmeric is a spice which has been cited as a so called ‘superfood’ for a while now but can it really help to boost your mood? Well, yes! Research shows that curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) can help balance serotonin levels and enhance the production of glutathione which is an essential antioxidant for brain health. I recommend taking turmeric as a capsule but it’s important to take one that also contains black pepper as this helps our body to absorb the curcumin.
- Get enough magnesium. Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body as everything, from your kidneys to your bones, needs it to perform effectively. A lack of magnesium can result in below par brain function which in turn can lead to stress and difficulty in getting to sleep. As we all know, a lack of sleep = poor mood so it’s important that we boost our levels of magnesium. Magnesium is found naturally in a lot of food, particularly leafy greens. However I also try to have a bath with Epsom Salts (which naturally contain magnesium which is easily absorbed through the skin) once a week.
- Omega 3 fatty acids. As well as benefits such as brain function and inflammatory properties, omega 3 has also been found to boost mood and lead to lower levels of depression. As well as making sure you eat plenty of oily fish, I’d recommend taking an omega 3 ‘concentrated’ supplement to make sure you’re getting the RDA.
- Grab a pen and paper. This sounds so simple but how often do you take time out of your day to actually think about how you’re feeling? Get a brew, sit down and write down three positive things about your day. Then think about the rest of the week; what do you want to achieve and how are you going to do it?
- Get to the gym. I won’t drone on about this as it’s already well documented but don’t underestimate those endorphins that are released when you break a sweat.
What else do you do to boost your mood? Let me know in the comments below!