Did you know that eating good-quality food can lift your mood?
Making sure you are getting enough fibre, veggies and fish oils is a great way to lubricate your brain and make you happier, says Dr. Alan Logan, a naturopath and faculty member of the Harvard Medical School’s Mind-Body Institute.
He spoke to Metro recently about the importance of getting the right nutrients, especially as we gear up for colder, darker weather.
“When you are under stress or feeling taxed or uncertain, that is a good time to really shore up the diet. Put yourself in the best position to re-invigorate,” says Logan, author of The Brain Diet.
A recent survey of more than 1,000 Canadians showed 25 per cent of us are less happy in 2009 compared to a year ago. The survey was commissioned by Genuine Health, a Canadian company that makes o3mega+ joy, a fish-oil-based supplement.
Other surveys in 2009 have found that the recession has put us down in the dumps: a large proportion of workers are worried about their jobs, and suffering from anxiety, loss of sleep and headaches.
“Typically,” says Logan, “when under stress, our diet is high in comfort foods that are high in sugar and the wrong fats such as saturated fat.”
Instead, try reaching for the foods from the Mediterranean diet — fish, veggies, olive oil, and loads of fibre. More and more scientific research shows that this kind of diet protects against depression.
One of the most important nutrients we are missing is omega-3, an essential fatty acid that keeps the brain well-oiled, says Logan. One of the key omega-3 fatty acids is EPA — eicosapentaenoic acid, which is found in sardines and anchovies.
A study in Pittsburgh found that in 100 young healthy adults, those with lowest omega-3 were more likely to have day-to-day depressive symptoms.
And a recent study in Quebec found that 120 women who had distress or stress significantly improved their mood by taking 1 g of EPA each day.
“When people think of omega 3 they think of heart health but the mood connection is an emerging part of the story,” says Logan. “It’s like WD40 for the brain.”
Dr. Logan recommends
Here are the cornerstones of Logan’s happiness diet:
• Whole grains/fibre
• Fish and seafood
• Lots of colourful vegetables
• Vitamin D. 800 IU is helpful for winter mood.
• Folic acid. Many studies have shown a link between low folic acid and depression. Folic acid is found in rice, beans, green veggies, oranges and fortified cereals.
• Vitamin B12. A deficiency could make you more likely to have depressive symptoms. Check with your doctor.