Plant-Based Diets Can Boost Your Mood & Reduce Stress & Anxiety - NOURISH Cooking Co.

Plant-Based Diets Can Boost Your Mood & Reduce Stress & Anxiety

Whenever we hear "We are what we eat," we immediately think about being overweight, or having a common medical issue such as heart disease or Type 2 diabetes.

Yet we are not acknowledging at the complete picture. This is because science-backed studies suggest that there's a link between what we eat, & how our mood, mental health & temperament, are affected [1].

And just like a vicious circle, this has a knock-on effect to our physical health

So, What's the Answer?

The answer is that we eat for optimal mental and physical health. And this is where plant-based foods come in.

Plants Veggies can Boost Your Mood

For those who are new to this revolutionary wave of veganism, this can be described as: a compassionate way of life that boosts our health and well-being, helps the animal kingdom, and reduces global warming (which is creating a warmer atmosphere, a more acidic and warmer ocean, higher sea levels, and more).

How Can I Boost My Mood with a Plant-Based Menu?

With our high-tech rapid pace of life, in a world where mobile phones have become standard arm extensions, it's easy to just grab something that we enjoy eating.

But are we being mindful about the type of nutrients we are actually consuming, and the potential damage we are doing to the environment?

To that end, by going plant-based, and eating a wide variety of such foods, we can reap enormous benefits. These can empower us to thrive both mentally and physically, while simultaneously helping the planet.

The crucial nutrients that we should include in our regime from plant-based foods, include:

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Plant Based Foods Rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids

These types of fatty acids have been implicated in improved mental health outcomes. They can be found in a variety of foods such as walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds [1].

The Amino Acid, Tryptophan

Tryptophan Foods

Our brains need the protein constituent, tryptophan, in order to generate the feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin. Tryptophan can be found in peas, broccoli, mushrooms, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, watercress, sunflower seeds, and leafy greens.

B Vitamins

This group of vitamins have been shown to bolster mood by elevating a number of key neurotransmitters. The latter comprise: dopamine (which plays a role in many crucial body functions, such as motivation, and pleasurable rewards); serotonin, and GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid).

In addition, B vitamins may be fundamental to boosting our spirits. They can be found in sunflower seeds, lentils, legumes, beans and fortified cereals.

Did You Know?

Picture of Legumes Foods

Did you know that sesame seeds are loaded with vitamin B1? They are a great support for our nervous system and brain function.  All you have to do is to sprinkle a desired amount on to your cereal, salad, or steamed/stir-fried veggies.

Promoting Well-Being

Due to existing and ongoing research, scientists advocate that there's a connection between our well-being and what we consume.

looking through the lens of today's world, where stress reigns supreme, reducing it by any means, is crucial for curtailing the risk of long-term conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Plant-Based Foods can be Booting Out Stress & Depression

"Research suggests that eating more plant-based foods can improve quality of life & mood, & reduce symptoms of depression" [1]

A five-year study involving an analysis of several thousand participants' dietary plans, and their risk of depression, concluded that: "Individuals eating whole foods reported fewer symptoms of depression compared to those who ate mostly processed foods" [1].

A lady Smelling Roses

Further, the Australian Diabetes, Obesity & Lifestyle Study, which comprised more than 8,500 subjects (aged 25 to 91), determined that generally speaking: "Poor nutritional habits were linked to higher perceived stress.

Long-Term Stress Equates to Chronic Issues

There is somewhat of a conundrum with regard to cause and effect. For instance, it is conceivable that individuals who experience a lower level of stress, are more inclined to consume healthy food, while people who suffer with higher stress levels, could be more disposed to making unhealthy food choices. 

The latter being in stark opposition to simply reducing stress by eating delicious fruits and vegetables.

The Link Between Prolonged Stress & Inflammation

"Our emotional health can influence inflammation in our body. Studies show that people who are happy, calm, & feel well-adjusted, tend to have lower levels of inflammation. On the other hand, those suffering from anxiety, depression, & post-traumatic stress disorder, or reacting to emotional hostility, have been shown to have higher levels of inflammation" [1]

This means that by switching to a fantastic plant-based diet, bumper-packed with antioxidant-laden fruits and vegetables, you should be able to reduce your inflammation, and get out of your stress zone [1].

Of note, in the vein of optimal health, it's important to try to go for fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables; and if you do make a meal at home, get a bite at lunchtime, or send out for a fabulous vegan take-away, be sure to include some raw veggies!

A report in the renowned journal, Clinical Nutrition, states that: "People who ate at least 16 ounces of fruits and vegetables daily reported 10 percent lower stress levels than those who ate less than 8 ounces" [1]

Also, when you're on the pathway to new beginnings in a vegan diet, just think 'baby steps,' as opposed to becoming overwhelmed by so many changes. The transformations which the body needs to adjust to gradually, rather than all in one go.  

For example, start by upping your fruit and vegetable intake, and then go on to switching from white bread to wholemeal [1].

The next time you're in a good supermarket, give yourself some 'me time,' by looking at the vast variety of fruits and veggies on offer.

Variety of Fruits Images

Some will be the standard ones you've had since you were in school, but others will be more exotic, possibly with names you've never even heard of. But the point here is to give any that you haven't tried, but like the look of, a whirl!

Examples include: Passion Fruit/Granadilla, Mangosteen, Jackfruit, Rambutan, Lychee fruit, Durian fruit, and Pineberries (white strawberries or hula berries).

Top Tip

Add a pack of blackberries (preferably fresh, if not, frozen), to your cart. These nutrient-packed berries which are bursting with antioxidants, can help boost a healthy mind.

Add dd a handful to a plain vegan yogurt; your breakfast cereal. some creamed coconut, or a must-have smoothie. Enjoy!

Sources

[1]. Schildhouse, J. (2020). "How a Plant-Based Diet Can Affect Your Mood." Vegetarian Times.

[2]. Millard, E. (2021). "Eating More Fruits and Vegetables May Reduce Stress, Study Finds." Very Well Fit.

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