Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Nutrition for Mental health - how food can affect your mood

by Amanda Moon (nee Neubauer)

It's Mental Health Month and many people are surprised to hear how much our diet can affect how we feel emotionally and mentally. So here are a few of my top tips to help you feel your best.

1. Eat plenty of Omega 3s. These healthy fats found in oily fish (sardines, salmon, mackerel) as well as chia, flaxseeds and walnuts, are involved in reducing inflammation in the body and brain. Depression is thought to be linked to inflammation in the brain, which means it struggles to function at its best and help us feel calm and happy. 

2. Eat small amounts of monounsaturated fats everyday. Olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocado allow the body and brain to produce 'feel good' chemicals. Considering the brain is 70% fat, it makes sense to feed your body healthy fats!

3. Increase your antioxidants. Including a wide range of different plant foods including vegetables and fruit (particularly those of bright colour), herbs, spices, nuts and seeds, will provide your body with the ability to 'clean up' destructive free-radicals which can cause inflammation and ill-health.

4. Heal your gut with nourishing foods. Our gut is considered our ‘second brain’. This is because it contains just as many, if not more, nerves as our brain and is responsible for important communication between each other. Ninety-five percent of serotonin (a hormone best known for it's feel good effects in the brain) is produced in the gut. The ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria that live in our gut play a major role in keeping our gut healthy and happy. When the bad bacteria take over, it can result
in inflammation and a reduction in serotonin. Keep your good bacteria thriving with high-fibre foods such as fruit, vegetables, legumes and wholegrains, as well as yoghurt, which provides additional good bacteria. Sometimes 'stressed' guts need a helping hand with a good probiotic - ask us if you are interested in kick-starting your gut health. 

5. Eat foods high in iron and zinc. Studies on single nutrients in foods and depression have produced inconsistent results, although there is evidence that zinc and iron may be important for mental health. These nutrients are found in meat, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, leafy greens and soy products.

Top tip:  If you focus on eating a wide range from the 5 food groups, while balancing protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates (based on your activity levels), you have a good chance of getting everything you need to function well. But remember that while diet has its role in keeping you happy, keeping stress to a minimum is necessary – be active, get a good night sleep, enjoy daily sunshine, limit alcohol and caffeine, and do things that make you smile every day!

Want to know more? Our dietitians can help you to make changes individualised to your needs. Call now to make an appointment for nutrition advice to support your mental health.

Should you be cutting foods from your diet?

reblogged from The Glow by Carla GS

Many people have thought about cutting out a food group at some point – maybe for a trendy diet (such as paleo or simply no ‘sugar’ or no ‘dairy’) or on suspicion of a food intolerance or allergy.

But the question is whether cutting out certain foods or even a whole food group will actually help the situation?

A major concern is that by removing major food groups from your diet you are also reducing your intake of nutrients – such as vitamins and minerals – that these foods contain. For example, dairy is a major source of calcium, but also other nutrients such as zinc, vitamin A and riboflavin. Plus, having an upset tummy and deciding to exclude bread for fear you’re gluten intolerant could only cause more problems.

It could also just be coincidence that you feel better for removing that food. For example, if you are trying to eat dairy-free you may skip the pizza to avoid the cheese and feel better for it. But how do you know it was the cheese that’s the culprit? As well as avoiding cheese, you also skipped many other foods, flavours, fat and possible additives which might normally make you feel queasy after eating pizza.

Making an appointment with your dietitian with allow you to work with them to identify foods or food components that may set off your symptoms. This will allow you to properly alter your diet so that you’re still getting the appropriate nutrition. If you feel that you might have an intolerance or allergy, identifying key symptoms will give you a better idea of whether you need to take your concerns to the next level.

For some people, they experience what we call ‘urgency’ which is when you’ve got a signal that you need to go to the toilet, you need to go right that second, because they experience immediate diarrhoea. If they don’t get to a bathroom, it’s not pretty.

Understanding your body and what affects it (both positively and negatively) will give you the confidence to thrive. Learn what foods and lifestyle factors influence your own symptoms. There is no magic one-size-fits-all diet. Most types of food intolerances are not able to be measured by standard medical tests.

Many people are worried that dietitians are the ‘food police’ who will judge them on what they eat, but that shouldn’t be the case at all, your dietitian should help you to understand your health issues and create some strategies to address them. Find a dietitian who specialises in your health issues so you can receive expert and up-to-date advice.

Tip: Keeping a food diary of everything you eat and the symptoms you experience afterwards will be helpful for you and your health professional to identify what could be going on.

Anti-Inflammatory Eating Cooking Class

Caroline from the Healthy Home Cafe invites you to her upcoming Cooking class, focused on how to include more anti-inflammatory foods into your day.

Mild chronic inflammation inside your body is linked to a host of conditions including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, age-related disorders including cancer and auto-immune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

The Anti-inflammatory approach is a way of selecting and preparing foods based on science that can help people achieve and maintain optimum health over their lifetime.

Date: Saturday 21st November 2015
Time: 11:00am - 2:30pm
Where: St Peters (2044)
Cost: $149
Bookings: Places limited. Book online at

Recipe of the Month: Mango Coconut Chia Pudding

This month Caroline from the Healthy Home Cafe has shared an interesting breakfast (snack or dessert) recipe. And considering mangoes are now cheap in the supermarket, we can't wait to give this a go!

"Mango and coconut is a match made in heaven. Mangoes are incredibly healthy. First of all, they are low GI, full of fibre (to help keep you regular) and their vibrant orange color shows that they are a fabulous source of the antioxidant beta-carotene. They are also an excellent source of Vitamin C (also an anti-oxidant), Vitamin B6 and the minerals potassium and magnesium (both can lower your blood pressure). But all of that is just a bonus as we eat them because they taste great!!!"

For more tasty recipes full of anti-oxidants, check out Caroline's upcoming Anti-inflammatory cooking class.

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 1 large ripe mango approx 500g (1½ cups approx or 370g flesh)
  • ½ cup Vitasoy Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  1. Remove flesh from mango and chop roughly
  2. Add mango to the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth
  3. For those with a thermomix, speed 4-5 for 10 seconds, then wipe the sides down with a spatula
  4. Add coconut milk and blend until incorporated
  5. Thermomix speed 4-5 for 10 seconds
  6. Stir through vanilla paste and chia seeds
  7. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes while you prepare the serving bowls or glasses (oh, and clean up!)
  8. After 30 minutes, stir the mixture to make sure the chia seeds are evenly dispersed before pouring into 4 serving bowls or glasses (approx 130g per serve)
  9. Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight
  10. Enjoy