Good mood-boosting foods for menopause

Eileen Durward
Ask Eileen

09 March 2020

Today's topic

Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be talking about good mood-boosting foods in the menopause.

Last week, I talked about lifestyle tips that can help to improve your mood and your emotional well-being. And for this part of our menopause mood month, I'm going to look at diet and the impact it has on your energy, your mood, and also your brain function. So, we're looking at good foods today.

Now, if you think about it, food is the fuel that helps to support our body as we go through the menopause. We need good food. We need healthy food. And we need foods that are nutritionally rich so that they can nourish and protect our brain and help to build the neurotransmitters and the hormones that are going to help to regulate our mood as we go through the menopause.

Firstly, it’s important to eat regularly!

Our blood sugar control in the menopause often goes all over the place. And, if you don't eat at regular times, or if you leave big gaps between meals, then your blood sugar levels can basically plummet and that can then trigger things like low mood.

It can trigger anxiety, palpitations, and even panic attacks. And low blood sugar levels can interfere with your concentration. It can give you that foggy brain, so we're wanting to keep our blood sugar levels as stable as possible and that means eating three good meals a day and snacks in between. And the most important meal of the day as you go through the menopause is your breakfast. Please don't skip it.

If you were going on a really long car journey, it would never enter your head not to check the car engine before you go. You would want to top up with fuel, with water, and oil. Now, every single day throughout the menopause, our body is going through a long journey, and it needs that nutritional support to help to keep it going.

So, in one way or another, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.

Which foods can help boost your mood?

So, which are some of the important foods?

1. Oats

Now, this is not the tubs of porridge oats that you just pour boiling water over and stir. These will contain flavourings. They will probably contain lots of sugar, and they would do you no good at all.

This is your proper oats that you need to cook, either the rolled oats with the bran on or the real, proper oatmeal. Oats contain something called tryptophan. And tryptophan is a chemical that can be broken down into serotonin, one of our mood enhancers. We need plenty of serotonin to keep our mood stable and help us to relax, both in our body and our mind.

Now, my favourite one is the proper oats with a tablespoon of mixed nuts and seeds. And that gives you a nice little bit of fat too. It gives you a really good nutritional start to the day.

2. Spinach

This is one you either tend to like or you tend to hate it, and that is spinach. Spinach is a really good food for the menopause. It's rich in something called folate and also B6, and these compounds produce something called dopamine, another chemical in the brain that makes you feel good. It also plays a big part in how you can control your emotional responses.

Spinach is also full of magnesium. Those of you who've been with me for a while, you know just how important magnesium is during the menopause. So, this is a really nice one to take for all sorts of different things.

My favourite dish using spinach is spinach soup. It's such an easy one to do, and I make it regularly for my lunch and I add one or two other things in it. You can also stir fry spinach to put in with other vegetables, too. It's a really good one to add into your daily diet.

Other foods that are similar would be kale and chard. These are your really dark, green leafy vegetables.

3. Salmon

Salmon contains an essential fatty acid called omega-3, which is really important for brain and cognitive function. So, this is one where, if you find that you're forgetting things, if you're getting a bit of a foggy brain, and you're not focusing, then you may be a little bit low in your omega-3.

Salmon also contains something called selenium, which is really good for your mood. It contains B vitamins, potassium which is good for energy, and is a lovely one for protein.

If you are vegetarian or vegan and you're looking for something similar, you can get flaxseed oil or flaxseeds, soya foods, and also walnuts. You could add these into your diet, too.

4. Blueberries

These are a super fruit. They contain lots of vitamin C. This C is really important for avoiding restlessness and anxiety. And the great thing about blueberries is they also give you a lot of benefits for both your eye and your heart health, which are both really important in the menopause.

Other fruits that you could substitute would be things like oranges and lemons, kiwis, and you've got your dark green leafy veg like kale and lovely broccoli, too.

5. Eggs

These are full of protein, which helps the production of both serotonin and dopamine, so these are your feel-good compounds in the brain. These are very good to help with your emotional health.

These are really simple and can be part of your breakfast: boiled egg, scrambled egg, poached egg or omelette. And these are very easy, quick meals that you can prepare for your breakfast before you pop out the door.

If you are vegetarian or vegan, then you can also look at your nuts and seeds. You can look at lentils, chickpeas and tofu, too.

Now, the bad foods. We know that sugar and caffeine both can have a very swift and quite deep impact on emotional health. I will be going through this next week and also other foods that can worsen your mood.

I hope you found this one helpful. If any of you have any other foods that you find make you feel good and happy, then please share them with us. We would love to know.

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