Positivity is an attractive quality: What to eat to increase optimistic thinking.
What we eat not only impacts on our physical wellbeing, but also our mental health. It is known that regular physical activity helps promote mental health, releasing endorphins and reducing the stress hormone, cortisol. Endorphines are released from the brain to reduce pain and stress (1). A recommended 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily as outlined in the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines (2) is beneficial in improving mood and self- esteem, stimulating nerve and brain cell growth.
Foods can also promote positive attitude and self- esteem, whilst others can have the opposite effect, increasing our stress hormones. Deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals can also lower our mood, so what do we need to eat more of and what should we limit?
Eat more of:
1. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): found naturally in animal products and manufactured by bacteria, good sources include: mackerel, fortified soy products, fortified cereals, swiss cheese, low fat dairy, beef and eggs.
2. Zinc: required for wound healing, protein synthesis and strengthening of the immune system eat more: wheat-germ, spinach, pumpkin seeds, cashews, cocoa powder beef, mung beans and lemon peel.
3. Potassium: this mineral helps nerves and muscles communicate with each other and removes waste out of cells. Sources include: white beans, dark leafy green vegetables, root vegetables, guava, salmon, bananas, avocado and citrus fruits.
4. Iron: necessary for optimal cell function and metabolism, this mineral can be consumed through: red meat (especially liver), beans and pulses, nuts, wholegrains, dark leafy vegetables, tofu and globe artichoke.
5. Vitamin C: This antioxidant scavenges for free radicals within the body, reducing the impact of oxidative stress which may lead to several lifestyle diseases. It is also important for wound healing and for the formation of skin and tendons. Foods include citrus fruits, Kale, Nettle, Kakadu Plum and Guava.
Eat less of:
Processed foods! High in saturated fat, sugar, salt and energy, but low in beneficial nutrients, these foods are downers! Not only do they promote weight gain (which tends to lower self-esteem), these foods feed the brain’s reward system, releasing the feel-good chemical dopamine. Unfortunately this is a short-lived positive feeling, leading to a sudden crash in mood! Additionally, low-nutrient foods increase the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies that would otherwise boost endorphins in a steady, healthy manner!
So stay positive, eat well and keep smiling. It suits you!
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