I recently wrote a blog post for Richmond Natural Medicine talking about how diet affects our emotional health and wellbeing. I’ve been getting these “questions” a lot lately in a round about way from a lot of people. They often wonder why they’re feeing so sluggish, lethargic, ambivalent, drowsy, sad, or unmotivated when they want to feeling to opposite for the beginning of spring. Sometimes it’s obvious why these symptoms arise (either due to lack of sleep, exercise or sunlight), but what is not so obvious is how their food choices are making their body feel less than adequate, and what steps they can take to improve their physical and emotional state by switching out some food choices.
As we come out of winter, we should also come away from eating heavy foods such as thick soups and stews or copious amounts of root veggies. Not that there is anything at all wrong with these, but as the seasons change, so do our seasonal food options. With spring comes color, and with more color comes more vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants. The more color we eat on a daily basis the more variety of nutrients our body can utilize for all of our organ systems.
Purple Vegetables – Nourish the blood; Tones cardiovascular system; Contains anthocyanins to strengthen capillary tone; high in antioxidants
Examples: eggplant, red onion, purple cabbage, beets, blueberries
Red Vetetables – Contain lots of lycopene, great for the heart and cardiovascular system
Orange Vegetables – Contain beta carotene which is important for immune system and essential for cell-to-cell communication.
Example: Carrots, golden beets
Green Vegetables – Especially dark leafy & brassicas are important for multiple organ system detoxification; useful in hormonal imbalance; increases liver detoxification (gets rid of excess hormone supplies); LOADED with vitamins and minerals.
Examples: kale, broccoli, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, spinach, swiss chard, beet greens
White/Green – Extremely nutritive to immune and lymphatic system.
Examples: garlic, onions, leeks, chives
Many of our mood hormones are manufactured from the foods that we eat including serotonin (feelings of wellbeing and happiness), nor-epinepherine and dopamine (pleasure and reward). Without these hormones and neurotransmitters we lack these feel good moods. Foods that are rich in amino acids (leucine, tryptophan, lysine, taurine etc) help to produce these hormones, and without eating these foods we are unable to produce these neurotransmitters at all!
So, simple steps like eating more mangos, papayas, dates, omega-3 fatty acids (flax, chia, hemp, fish or walnuts) and high quality meats and vegetable proteins can greatly enhance the production of some of these hormones.
Quite often, we we start to eat better by making more colorful, whole food choices, we ultimately “feel better” all over because our organ systems are running more smoothly, our digestion becomes more regulated, and our hormone/neurotransmitter production is receiving adequate food intakes to do the job. Take a simple step every day to try and eat 5 different colors with fruits and veggies, and aim for high quality meats and vegetable protein sources for optimal amino acids. If you need some guidance on what foods to look for, let schedule a free health coaching appointment to talk it out!
Lindsay Kluge M.Sc, CNS, LDN | HealthCoach@EllwoodThompsons.com