Meal prep is about more than just a healthy lunch; it also has a profound impact on our mental and emotional well-being. With our busy schedules and often hectic lifestyles, we can underestimate the power of the food we consume and how it can influence our moods. Read on to explore four surprising ways that food affects your mood as well as the importance of a healthy diet for overall emotional health.
You may be surprised to learn that there is a direct link between your gut and your brain. The gut-brain connection refers to the communication pathway that exists between your gastrointestinal tract and your brain. Research has shown that the microbes in your gut play a crucial role in producing neurotransmitters like serotonin, often referred to as the "happy hormone." A healthy diet rich in probiotics, fibre, and fermented foods from things like nutritious soups and superfood dressings can promote a balanced gut microbiome, leading to improved mood and mental well-being.
Do you suffer from low blood sugar? The food you eat can significantly impact your blood sugar levels. Consuming sugary and processed foods can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar, followed by a crash, leading to mood swings, irritability, and fatigue. On the other hand, a diet rich in complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, legumes, and vegetables, can help stabilise blood sugar levels and provide a steady release of energy throughout the day, promoting a more stable and positive mood. If this sounds like you, then meal prep is especially important.
Omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain health and function. Individuals with lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids are more prone to depression and mood disorders. Including foods like fatty fish (salmon, sardines), walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds in your diet can provide a natural boost of omega-3s, supporting better mood regulation and reducing the risk of depressive symptoms. Not sure how to add omega-3 into your diet? You can easily add them into a healthy lunch using superfood dressings or a sprinkle of seeds as a garnish.
Certain vitamins and minerals have been found to influence mood and emotional well-being. For instance, deficiencies in B vitamins, particularly vitamins B6, B9 (folate), and B12, have been linked to symptoms of depression and anxiety. Similarly, low levels of magnesium, zinc, and iron can impact neurotransmitter production and function, leading to imbalances in mood. Including a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods in your diet, such as leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins, can ensure an adequate intake of these essential micronutrients, supporting a positive mood. Perhaps this rings true for you? If so, think about meal prep in advance in order to increase your intake of essential micronutrients.
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