Among the many things that have changed this year, one that sticks out to us here at The Nourish and Develop Foundation is our relationship with food. When we factor in budgeting, stress, and new safety protocols that affect how we source our food, there are many reasons to explain the difference in what, how, and when we eat. After all, our behaviour towards food is subject to our habits and routines, which have been disrupted. Now that we are moving into the winter months; our gardens are no longer producing what they were, we don’t leave the house as often, and we are deprived of sunlight. We want to point out the foods that can keep us healthy, strong, and in good spirits throughout the next few months.
FOODS THAT BOOST OUR MOOD
Bananas – can increase the production of serotonin and dopamine, which are important neurotransmitters for happiness!
Grapes – are full of vitamin C and natural sugars, both of which enhance mood and boost energy.
Almonds – contain good fats for skin and brain health. They also increase domaine levels.
Avocados – are great for your skin and hair, but they also increase dopamine levels and increase endorphins.
Dark Chocolate – improves blood flow to the brain and brightens your mood!
Walnuts – have omega-3s and antioxidants, both of which have benefits. They also contain magnesium, which can reduce irritability, anxiety, and depression.
Spinach – is packed with B vitamins that are essential in producing the feel-good hormone, serotonin. Serotonin acts as a mood stabilizer and is often used to treat depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.
Fatty Fish – like salmon and tuna contain omega-3s, which our body cannot produce on its own. The types of omega-3s found in fatty fish are linked to lower levels of depression.
DRINKS THAT BOOST OUR MOOD
Pink Latte – Beetroot has tyrosine and the amino acid betaine, which can increase your dopamine levels, in turn improving your mood.
Apple Cider Vinegar Brew – In addition to boosting your metabolism, apple cider vinegar might relax you and soothe your anxiety. It can release tryptophan, which can help with better sleep and a more peaceful mood. Tryptophan is converted into seratonin, which regulates mood and can reduce irritability. It can also help when you’re feeling lethargic and need a little more energy.
Matcha & Green Tea Latte – promotes a feeling of tranquility, and matcha in particular is an adaptogen that can give you energy without the anxious jitters. In fact, it can leave you feeling calm, despite the boost in alertness.
Turmeric Jamu – Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin which not only boosts your immune system, but can reduce anixety and stress because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Water – treats hydration, which even in mild cases can negatively affect our thoughts and feelings by impairing our ability to think clearly, lowering energy levels, and slowing our circulation, meaning less oxygen travels to our brain.
Green Tea – contains L-Theanine, an amino acid that decreases anxiety and stress.
TEAS THAT CAN TREAT UNPLEASANT SYMPTOMS
Cinnamon! Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. To make cinnamon tea, take a cup of boiling water, brew a teaspoon of black tea, and add a cinnamon stick. After five minutes, strain and drink.
Thyme! Thyme is often included as an ingredient in common over the counter cold and cough medicines. Its antifungal and antispasmodic effects can ease and relieve all types of coughs by relaxing bronchial muscles and loosening phlegm. Try making your own recipe!
Lemon! Lemon has several benefits including being loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants, which can help to boost the immune system and provide pain relief. Lemon often pairs well with honey and balances out the sour taste!
Chamomile! Chamomile reduces abdominal gas through soothing the walls of the intestines and is rich in essential oils that aid the digestive system by increasing the secretion of bile. It is most effective when steeped for 10-15 minutes.
Peppermint! Peppermint is known to improve alertness and memory which may improve concentration because menthol stimulates the area of the brain that controls mental clarity. It works great as a mid-day energy boost!
Passionflower! Passionflower can prepare us for a good night’s rest, as it increases the level of Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in our brain, reducing anxiety and stress to help us relax and therefore sleep better.
HOW TO PREVENT AND HELP FIGHT INFECTION THROUGH FOOD:
- Turmeric (try it in smoothies, soups, or rice!)
- Ginger (use in a stir fry or with fish!)
- Oregano oil (take a drop under your tongue when you feel your throat getting scratchy)
- Habanero (add some peppers to a chili or a salsa!)
- Echinacea herb (make it into a tea!)
- Raw honey (spread over toast or stir into oatmeal!)
- Apple cider vinegar (include it in salad dressings or dilute it in water to drink!)
- Horseradish root (grate some fresh horseradish to serve with roasted meats!)
- Onion (include in an omelet or make onion bread!)
- Garlic (roast on pizza or use it in a pasta sauce!)
Disclaimer: If you are intending to use foods, spices, or herbs for medicinal purposes, please consult your primary care provider for information and direction of use.
FOOD FOR THE WINTER:
There seems to be a myth about frozen vegetables that deem them to be ‘unhealthier’ than fresh vegetables, however, this is not the case. In fact, frozen vegetables have as much, if not more nutrients than fresh! This is because they are harvested at their peak and are quickly processed to preserve this prime state, whereas fresh vegetables can lose nutrients over time if we delay eating them and if they are not local, the have to be harvested prematurely in order to be ripe for when they arrive at the store for purchase. Frozen vegetables have some advantages. They can sometimes be offered for a lower cost, they can be stored longer, and it is easy to incorporate them into meals!
Fortunately, root vegetables like beets, carrots, turnips, potatoes, and parsnips can withstand the cold. They often are high in antioxidants which protect our cells, and they are rich in soluble and insoluble fibre. Fibre reduces the risk of Type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and bowel cancer as it boosts healthy gut bacteria and lowers levels of blood fats. A huge benefit to choosing to consume root vegetables is that we have the option to continue to source locally!
Oats are high in zinc- an important mineral for proper immune function and helps control the body’s response to stress. Oats keep our energy levels stable due to slowing down our digestion of carbs and maintains blood sugar which helps to keep mood swings and irritability in check. To jazz up your oat intake from the typical instant oatmeal or porridge, try these creative and flavourful overnight oats recipes: https://lifemadesweeter.com/overnight-oats-8-ways/
Soup can be the ultimate meal prep as it is easy to make from scratch, in large quantities, and freeze. There are also many ways to experiment with ingredients! Having a bowl of soup can reduce anxiety and calm nerves since it has a comforting effect. It is a convenient meal to incorporate other vegetables, herbs, and spices previously mentioned to kill two birds with one stone so to speak.
Beans and Lentils:
Whether they come canned or dried, beans and lentils and very easy to store and are a great source of plant-based protein. They contain several B vitamins which release a number of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine to regulate mood and are a great source of magnesium which lowers stress and anxiety. How do you eat your beans?
For more ideas, check out our Pantry Clips videos!
For more information on food and mental health, see: