Look at your diet: By cutting down on sugar and alcohol we can help to balance out yo-yoing moods. Both these substances increase a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine makes us feel rewarded and pleasurable but this doesn’t last forever and – once levels fall – we can feel lower than we did before. So as tempting as chocolate bars look, especially when we feel low, try to stay away from sugar.
Eat oily fish twice a week, snack on chia seeds or try taking a supplement, as fatty acids are great ‘brain’ food and can help to fight mood swings. Our brain is made up to 18% of Omega-3s, however, we don’t produce them, and so they have to be sources from outside.
Don’t forget about proteins! They are broken down in the body to make amino acids and then used to create neurotransmitters, which are responsible for keeping our mind and mood balanced. Go for: nuts, seeds, meat, fish, bean and lentils, whey protein and eggs.
4 ways to boost your happy hormone
Serotonin, also known, as the ‘happy hormone’ is a chemical produced by our brain and intestines that works as a neurotransmitter, helping us to relay signals from one area of the brain to another. It is mainly responsible for maintaining mood balance and if you are deficient, this can lead to anxiety, low mood or even depression.
1. Balance your gut flora
Unfortunately, due to our diet, lifestyle and stress levels most of us struggle with an imbalance of gut flora. Try taking high-quality probiotics to restore your intestinal flora and include fermented foods in your daily diet. Think: kefir, pickles, sauerkraut or miso.
2. Get moving!
Daily exercise is the easiest and the most effective way to increase your serotonin level. However, make sure you chose an activity that you really like and enjoy. If you feel like you are forcing yourself it may not have the right effect. That may be a result of our ancient instincts. Our brain can tell the difference between running because you’re hunting something, and running because it’s hunting you.
3. Go socialise
Oxytocin is another ‘feel good’ hormone. Released when we bond socially and feel general trust, comfort and love, this hormone is just as powerful as serotonin. Whenever you feel low and need a lift, spend time with your family and friends to mellow down and feel instantly better.
4. Take magnesium
If you are feeling tired, irritated and struggle to get up every morning, Magnesium is an excellent mineral to take as it plays a major role in the development of serotonin. Magnesium is known as ‘natures tranquiliser’ and is needed to relax our muscles and nerves, helping us to fall into a peaceful sleep; it can also increase energy levels and help us to feel better about ourselves.
The top 4 ‘happy pills’ recommended by Nutritionist Cassandra Barns….
Pro-Ven Adult Probiotic 25 Billion
“The bacteria in our guts outnumber our cells by about 10 to 1 and take residence in our bodies from the day we are born, remaining with us throughout our lives. Stress, diet, illness, exercise, medications, even getting older can affect the gut by upsetting the natural balance of bacteria. So, sometimes it needs a helping hand. One way to give your gut some TLC is by providing it with ‘friendly bacteria’, also known as probiotics.
“Try Pro-Ven Adult Probiotic 25 Billion (£13.95, Boots) which contains Lab4, the most comprehensively studied group of friendly bacteria of any product in the UK. This provides real benefits in supporting digestive and immune health,” explains Cassandra.
Natures Plus KalmAssure Magnesium Capsules
“Many of us live hectic, stressful lives, and are more exposed to environmental and food toxins, which can make us more prone to a magnesium deficiency. Try to include dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, whole grains and bananas in your diet, which are all rich in magnesium. Alternatively, to make sure you’re getting your daily dose I would recommend taking Natures Plus KalmAssure Magnesium Capsules (£11.75, www.naturesplus.co.uk), which are very easy to absorb and easily delivered to the tissues,” explains Cassandra.
Natures Plus Ultra Omega 3/6/9
“Not only does Omega 3 help reduce irritability and inflammation in the body, it also enhances your mood, helps balance your hormones, and it aids healthy production of sex hormones. Try Natures Plus Ultra Omega 3/6/9, (£22.95, www.revital.co.uk) to help support your overall wellbeing,” explains Cassandra.
Quest Vitamins Once A Day Multi
“To get yourself feeling relaxed and revitalised try, Quest Vitamins Once A Day Multi, £5.94 qnutrapharma.com, which combines Vitamin B and Vitamin C for stress busting goodness. This “all-in-one” fast releasing formula also enhances the immune system and helps to maintain mental well being and concentration, to assist you in feeling more focused and ready to tackle your daily tasks,” says Cassandra.