The nutrient you need to boost your mood
Feeling low? Suffering from mood swings?
Did you know that this could be down to a lack of a nutrient that regulates your mood? The nutrient in question is Tryptophan- an essential amino acid that enables serotonin production.
Why is this important? Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and hormone primarily produced in the gut (over 90% of it), that regulates mood and stress response. Yes, the gut-brain connection is real. Serotonin is responsible for regulating various functions such as sleep and appetite. It plays a key role in maintaining mood, and low levels of serotonin can be linked to depression.
Serotonin levels decrease throughout the day. This is why this neurotransmitter is also linked to a feeling we have all experienced: "emotional hunger". That hunger that usually appears at the end of the day and seeks to find comfort in food.
"It's been a stressful day, I deserve to eat something sweet". Yes, we've also heard ourselves saying this.... And the moment you eat something with sugar, you feel better... Or at least, momentarily. That's because serotonin can be increased more rapidly with sugar. The body receives glucose quickly which increases insulin, and, as a result causes serotonin to be raised. But the problem is that as fast as it goes up, it then comes down. Which is when we enter a spiral of self-guilt, regret and discomfort.
So, how can we solve this? Eating foods rich in tryptophan, omega-3, magnesium, calcium, zinc... that help achieve higher and stable levels of serotonin. Yes, what you eat -or don't eat- affects your mood. And this is the case with Tryptophan.
Luckily for you, tryptophan can be found naturally in foods, such as oily fish, meat, milk, eggs, legumes, cereals, specially in oats, dry fruits, acidic fruits, vegetables, sunflower or sesame seeds, cacao and bananas. What a great excuse to treat yourself with your favourite chocolate, right?
Here's a delicious 2 minute recipe you can make to boost your tryptophan levels and at the same time, treat yourself!
Healthy chocolate milk-shake
Serves 1 person
Prep time: 2 minutes
- 1 banana
- 1 tablespoon raw cacao
- 1 glass plant-based milk of your choice
- For extra sweetness: 1 date
Mix all the ingredients in the blender and enjoy!
Boost your mood through nutrition! #FoodFirstPhilosophy