Brain Snacks Improve the Mood and Energy
Balance Your Plate, Feed Your Mind
Have you ever tried to run a car without gasoline? How far did you get? What would happen if you decided to put windshield washer fluid in the oil bin instead of oil. While I hope you haven’t tried either of the tasks listed above, we can imagine the outcome of such negligence.
Fueling our bodies is kinda like operating a car. Without the right fuel, It would be far fetched to think we could get anything done efficiently. When you don’t feed your mind properly, you may notice you end up tired and running sluggishly. You may notice yourself waking up with the primary anticipation of getting back to bed! Just like a car, our bodies need ALL regular nutrition to be expected to run properly. And we need to feed our minds through our stomach by providing it with adequate brain snacks!
How to Create Balanced Brain Snacks
Balancing the plate is a good way to ensure you get in all the nutrients you need throughout the day. Here is an easy way to balance the plate:
- incorporate a serving of whole grains
- Getting fruits/veggies on half the plate
- Choose a lean protein (eggs, fish, chicken, beans, lentils, tofu)
Proper Meal Timing to Feed Your Mind and Improve the Mood
Just as important as what you eat is when you’re getting it. Skipping meals or prolong time between meals and snacks, your brain runs out of fuel fast. This can lead to low energy and low blood sugars. Moral of the story here: Stop being stingy and give your brain some snacks!
A recent study looks at the importance of breakfast for for daily energy as well as preventing depression. Continuing to balance through the day is equally important. Study research can be found here.
Carbs are Our Bodies Preferred Brain Snacks
Our brains favorite food is carbohydrates. Carbs are the #1 way to feed your mind. This is because our brain runs on glucose. Glucose comes from dietary carbohydrates and sugars. Foods rich in fiber such as whole grain bread, pastas, rice, fruit and some veggies are our easy one stop shop brain snacks.
Without it’s preferred fuel of carbohydrate, the brain can become foggy. You may have trouble staying focused and getting the energy to do daily tasks. If going for prolonged periods of time without carbs, the body may also experience low blood sugars (hypoglycemia). Low blood sugar can occur even in otherwise healthy individuals.
You may discover the challenges of foggy brain and low energy if you were to follow some type of a low-carbohydrate diet. Creating a steady mood and healthy brain activity is about balance, not elimination.
Fish-The Perfect Food to Feed Your Mind
DHA and EPA (Omega 3 fatty acids) are one of your most powerful mood foods. In fact, low red blood cell levels of DHA and EPA are highly correlated with increased risks of depression. Omega-3 also reduces the amount of inflammation in our bodies.
Best Omega-3 Brain Snacks?
- Albecore Tuna
- Fish oil supplement
What Are Some Plant Mood Boosting Omega-3 Foods:
- Hemp Seeds (try a smoothie here)
- Brussel Sprouts
- Algal oil
Feed Your Mind by Starting With the Gut
Did you know that over 90% our feel good transmitter serotonin is produced in the gut? It may surprise you to learn the number of nerves in the gut exceeds that in the spinal column! Communication between the brain and the gut is a two-way channel. The gut usually takes the lead sending signals to the brain. So it’s important it’s got the right communication equipment!
Folate rich foods are an excellent for boosting mood
- leafy greens
Another great source of folate is sweet potatoes. Try these cajun inspired fresh tacos for a healthy vegan burst of folic acid.
One thing to remember about folate is it can be easily lost with cooking or storage, putting a damper on your brain snacks. For best results-prepare produce as close to fresh as possible! There are many foods to add to this list but those are a few to get you started. Brain snacks come in big and little packages but most of the packages are perishable!
B Vitamins, A+ brain snacks
B-Vitamins serve as important bridge in production of both energy from carbs, and our feel good neurotransmitters. Without appropriate intake of B vitamins such as b6 for example, we can’t produce serotonin, a feel good neurotransmitter. Food for thought (or memory), we’d be hard pressed with a b5 deficiency.
Various b-vitamins are found in all types of foods but here are a few to get you started:
- Whole grain breads and cereals
- Steel cut oats
If I want to improve my mood with food, I first need to optimize the nutrients that make the mind tick!
Sunshine to Feed The Mind
I personally love a good bask in the sun. Did you know as you’re catching waves your body is thanking you through vitamin D production?
Vitamin D is our happy vitamin, often linked with an increase in overall mood. While the sun is a great source we also need to choose foods high in vitamin D, as our needs will likely not be met by sunshine alone. Here are some great Vitamin D food choices:
- Salmon with bones
- Fortified orange juice
- Fortified milk
- Fortified Soy Milk
- Egg Yolks
- White Beans
Meal prep- An Easy Win for Keeping the Brain Healthy
Many of brain snacks are simple enough to incorporate with a little planning and prep. A balanced diet is the best way to feed the mind. I encourage you to think about the traditional American diet. A traditional American diet may be low in many of these mood foods including whole grains, produce, and fish.
A Harvard research study indicates how traditional American diets are correlated with an increased risk for depressive disorder. This may have to do with our tendency for highly processed foods and low intake of fruits and veggies. The research can be found Here.
There is no better time to start improving your mood through food than today.I am always exploring additional ways to eat more brain snacks through natural sources that are not listed here as well. What are some of your favorite ways to feed the mind?