Are Your Food Choices Affecting Your Mood?

Food & Mood

 

Did You Know – Food has a powerful influence over mood, both to your advantage and disadvantage.

 

Your food can assist you to become more happy and healthy, or your food can undermine your health and well-being, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Food used to be something we ate to give strength and vitality to our bodies, to heal us when we were sick and to satisfy an appetite after doing meaningful work. Now food is produced for profit and instead of being eaten when we are physically hungry, food is now consumed to satisfy artificial cravings. We eat, but we are rarely satisfied, only full.

Food changes chemicals in the body and brain, affecting mood and behavior. It is impossible to be contented and emotionally stable while poisoning your body and brain with artificial and adulterated ‘food’. Present day research and experience are proving without a doubt that there is a connection between what we eat and how we think, feel and behave. Improving your physical diet can reduce stress levels, anger and anxiety.

Enjoying a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, eggs, lean meat and oily fish, for instance, is associated with a reduction in mood swings, depression and anxiety. Eating these foods can help maintain a steady blood-sugar level, which also helps to stabilize mood. Your mood also affects the foods you choose.

People in a negative frame of mind are more likely to choose sugary, fatty, processed and salty indulgence or comfort foods, rather than Life Enhancing ones. Sugar leads to fluctuations in blood sugar, which can bring on mood swings and the Sugar Blues. Sugar, though sometimes a short term fix, encourages poor mental and emotional health. Sugar, carbohydrate and processed food consumption also triggers a cascade of chemical reactions in your body that promote chronic inflammation. In the long term, inflammation disrupts the normal functioning of your immune system and wreaks havoc on your brain, and mood.

A high-quality source of protein – like organic eggs, sardines or a handful of almonds (preferably presoaked to unlock the enzyme inhibitors)– helps to keep your blood sugar levels steady for enhanced energy and mood.

Brain chemicals (neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine and acetylcholine) influence the way we think, feel and behave. They can be affected by what we’ve eaten. We are becoming more and more aware of the Gut/Brain connection and know that eating traditionally fermented, unpasteurized foods are the best route to optimal digestive health.
Bananas contain dopamine, a natural reward chemical that boosts your mood.

Magnesium, found in pumpkin seeds, almonds and leafy greens, is a calming mineral that gets depleted when we’re stressed.

Leafy greens, legumes, nuts and eggs: These types of foods are packed with vitamin B, which helps to create neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which calms and reduces anxiety.

Caffeine, found in tea, coffee, cola drinks and chocolate, is probably the most widely used behaviour-modifying drug in the world. We often choose to drink it if we are feeling tired and irritable, because it can give us a boost and help us to concentrate.

My main philosophy about what to eat and what to avoid is quite simple. If man has created, enhanced or adulterated a food in any way, then I greatly reduce my consumption of these foods or avoid them altogether. The chances are the molecular structure of the original food has changed due to high heat, forced pressure or some other unnatural process or procedure so our bodies no longer recognizes it as food. This is how some food allergies are created. I prefer to eat foods created by nature, as nature intended.

And last but by no means least is Water. Dehydration can contribute to poor concentration, low energy, and poor mood, so try to drink plenty of water every day and stay hydrated.

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Let Food be thy Medicine

Let-Food-be-thy-MedicineFor thousands of years people were aware of the healing qualities of the foods around them. That is until the last 100 years, where food production has been taken over, hijacked by the ‘Food for Profits’ industries.

Food that is artificially grown, harvested too early, stored too long and heavily sprayed with dubious products has a much harder time sharing any health giving qualities than a fresh, naturally gown, and unadulterated food.

The following are some everyday foods and some of the healing powers they can contribute to our health and well-being.

Apples
There is truth behind the old saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”.

• Lowers blood cholesterol
• Lowers blood pressure
• Stabilizes blood sugar
• Dampens appetite
• Juice kills infectious viruses
• Prevents constipation
• Prevents tooth decay
• Helps diarrhea

Bananas
Bananas were first grown in India 4000 years ago, where they were known to help heal peptic and duodenal ulcers, as well as gastritis.

• Prevents and heals ulcers
• Lowers blood pressure
• Lowers blood cholesterol
• Helps alleviate PMS

Blue Berries
Scientists have found that Blueberries are full of anthocyanosides, which kill E-coli bacteria.

• Cures diarrhea
• Kills infectious viruses
• Helps lower blood cholesterol
• Improves blood pressure
• Helps with weight control
• Blocks damage to blood vessels

Broccoli & Cauliflower
The crucifer family of vegetables are known for their cancer fighting properties, ie indoles, dithiolthiones, carotenoids & glucosinolates.

• Lowers risk of cancer
• Protects against anemia and gum disease
• Helps maintain strong bones and teeth

Cabbage
Cabbage has been used to treat scurvy, gout, rheumatism, gangrene, asthma, tuberculosis, eye and gum disease, ulcers and cancer. It also helps purify the blood and is a great tonic especially when made into sauerkraut with the added bonus of enzymes and probiotics.

• Lowers risk of cancer, especially of the colon
• Prevents and heals ulcers ( especially the juice)
• Stimulates the immune system
• Helps kill bacteria and viruses

Onion
Onion has been used as a healing remedy for thousands of years. One of nature’s miracle healing foods, used for the heart, as a diuretic, blood pressure reducer, heart tonic . . .

• Lowers cholesterol
• Thins the blood and slows down blood clotting
• Controls blood sugar
• Destroys bacteria
• Clears bronchial congestion
• Blocks cancer

Garlic
Known around the world for its health giving healing properties garlic has been used to treat headaches, hypertension, rheumatism, asthma, hemorrhoids, ulcers, tumors, typhus, cholera, yeast infection, whooping cough, stings or bites, through the centuries.

• Fights infection
• Contains cancer preventative chemicals
• Thins the blood
• Reduces blood pressure and cholesterol
• Stimulates the immune system
• Prevents and relieves chronic bronchitis
• Acts as an expectorant and decongestant

Ginger

Read the post about the Therapeutic uses for Ginger here.

• Soothe digestive disturbances
• Alleviate nausea (great in early pregnancy)
• Prevents motion sickness
• Reduce fever
• Thins the blood
• Calm coughing and respiratory troubles
• Stimulates the circulatory system
• Helps relieve muscle aches and pain
• Can help get rid of dandruff
• Emerging evidence shows it helps lower cholesterol
• Japanese research has found Ginger is effective in lowering blood pressure and cancer risk”

Honey
Honey is another food that was used extensively in ancient medicine and scientists today confirm its amazing antibiotic abilities, which is why I put it in some of my First Aid Creams.

• Kills bacteria and disinfects wounds and sores
• Relieves diarrhea
• Sooths sore throats
• Calms the nerves, induces sleep
• Alleviates asthma

Oats
I have used oat milk baths to soothe nappy rash, eczema or any other sore or itchy rash or redness. I also put it in some of my First Aid Creams for its age old soothing and healing properties.

• Lowers blood cholesterol
• Regulates blood sugar
• Acts as a laxative
• Soothes contact dermatitis and eczema
• Helps promote weight loss
• Helps prevent cancer

Used mindfully, Food really can be our Medicine!

Source: Natures Healing Foods by Karen Davis

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Why Eat Mindfully?

Mindful-Eating copy‘Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food,’ said Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, often referred to as the father of Western medicine.

Mindless Eating habits can lead to ill-health and obesity. Mindless eating is where someone eats on the run, in front of a computer or television; actually anywhere where little or no attention is given to the way, type, or amount of food consumed because focus and attention is elsewhere.

As an extreme example of this, I can remember an incident when I was in my early twenties where I was literally pacing the floor over some intense concern. Sometime later I noticed an empty packet of chocolate biscuit’s on the table. I had little recollection of getting the packet out of the cupboard and one by one consuming every single biscuit. My mind was so caught up elsewhere I was not even aware of eating, what I was eating or how much – but worst of all I had no memory of Enjoying those biscuits either! This was totally pointless consuming, which is what mindless consuming is.

Eat Mindfully and Listen to Your Body

Ancient and indigenous cultures lived in harmony with their bodies, knowing instinctively what they needed to stay healthy. This understanding and wisdom was passed down from generation to generation.

Food has the power to heal or harm. It’s not only what you eat, it is how you eat, when you eat, how often and how much you eat.

Take the time to notice the signals your body is sending you daily about your eating habits, through various sensations and symptoms.

To start listening to your body, some questions to ask may include:

1. Do I have immediate negative reactions after eating that can indicate food intolerance, such as: bloating, gas, belching (digestive distress), sneezing, itching, rashes, dizziness, or a fuzzy brain?

2. After my meals, do I feeling full but not satisfied or only full for a short time?

3. After my meals do I feel lethargic rather than renewed? Do I feel hyper but exhausted?

4. After eating do I feel… Sluggish, spacey, anxious, or irritable?

If you answered yes to any or all of the questions above, then the food you are eating and your relationship to it is out of balance and harmony with your body. Reconsider your relationship with your food.

Slow down the speed you are eating. By slowing down the speed you eat you are more likely to register when you are full. And taking the time to fully chew your food, helps pave the way for healthy digestion to take place.

Eat with awareness, without distractions, and utilize all 6 senses to gain full awareness and satisfaction from your food. Savior it and enjoy it!

Calmly eat with gratitude and appreciation, knowing you are being healthily nourished on all levels of your being. Eating can be a pleasure rather than a mindless ‘have to’ or greedy punishment.

When you practice mindful eating, more of what you eat will nourish you, making you feel good inside and out.

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Mini Wicking Beds

Herbs-Growing

There are many ways to create a wicking bed. I chose to make these very simple, economical and easy to construct and maintain mini ones.

Wicking beds are a way of growing plants where moisture wicks up from an underground water reservoir that is below the root zone. This encourages the roots of the plants to grown down deeper rather than staying on the surface. The major advantage of a wicking bed is a significant increase in production, due in part to the soil always being moist, never too dry or too wet, thus causing less stress on the plants. Water evaporation, use and frequency of watering are also greatly reduced.

The simplest and most common form of wicking bed is to have a flower pot standing in saucer of water so the water wicks up into the soil.

This is how I constructed my wicking beds:

Setting-Up

 I picked up some used vegetable boxes from our local organic shop, then sourced the piping from our local recycle center.

The box is lined with plastic to ensure it holds water. I used a couple of heavy duty rubbish bags. Drain holes were drilled in the larger pipe I used as part of the water reservoir, and an opening created for the filler pipe.

2-Drain-Pipes

 In some of the boxes I used 2 pipes in the bottom to keep the weight of the boxes down for ease of moving them (while the reservoir is dry) at later dates. I then filled the bottom with gravel.

Gravel-Added

The gravel I used was some I already had. Organic matter can be used instead of gravel, which will have the added bonus of forming a compost tea and feed the plants as well as watering them. If you use wood chips they will reduce the available nitrogen levels so it is best to add extra nitrogen, such as blood and bone. It is best not to use sand around the pipes as it can have a tendency to clog up.

Netting

I then placed shade cloth over the gravel to stop the soil falling into the water reservoir.The extra plastic was also trimmed off.

A hole about a centimeter round was made in the side of the box at the level where the gravel and soil meet – the level of the shade cloth. This let any extra water out to stop the box becoming soggy and water logged.

When topping the wicking bed with water you know the reservoir is full when water starts coming out of the drain hole.

Soil-Added

Choose a nice, light compost soil with good water retention properties to fill your wicking bed with.

The surface of the bed should be dry.  When you plant seeds you can wet the surface, but after they have germinated and developed a root system, you only water from the pipes.

I use a dry bamboo garden stake to dip down the filler pipe to check the water level.

Wicking-BedIt is as easy and inexpensive as that!  In no time the wicking bed is producing lush herbs and veges with very little space or maintenance needed.

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From the Garden

Salad

Fresh Garden Salad

It feels so good to take a bowl or basket out to the garden and pick something fresh to eat, knowing it has grown naturally, without the use of anything chemical or nasty.  The fact that there are a few snails and caterpillars, feasting on my produce only assures me that it is healthy!  They know what to eat to grow big and strong. Something full of sprays keeps the bugs away.

This little frog living amongst the young Yucca plants in the shade house lets me know that the environment in there is healthy and life supporting too!

Frog-in-Yucca-SeedlingsWith it being a hot, dry spring day here in Queensland, I felt like a nice fresh salad for lunch. It didn’t take long to picked a couple of carrots, some radish, garlic chives, fennel, ceylon spinach, mustard lettuce, red lettuce, cos lettuce, endive,  rocket, nasturtium leaves, and some tomatoes from my garden.

Rocket

Rocket ready for harvesting

With the lettuces, rocket, nasturtium, fennel and garlic chives, I just pick off the leaves I want to use and leave it to grow more ready for the next picking.  This way I can harvest over a few weeks to a few months before the plant needs replacing.

Cos Lettuce with larger leaves harvested.

Cos Lettuce with larger leaves harvested.

With plants like spring onions, coriander, rocket, radish and various others, I let a plant go to seed naturally where they are, so new plants keep coming up through the natural selection of the strongest seeds germinating when the conditions are right. The tomatoes seed from the few tomatoes that get over ripe before I pick them, and end up in the garden. Any diseased fruit or plant gets disposed of, of course, so as not to spread disease or weak plants.  With the purple climbing bean, I let one or maybe two bean pods grow past the tender, juicy stage for eating and when the outside of the bean casing starts to dry up a bit I pick the beans out and plant them, so they will grow up and replace the parent plant that is probably getting a bit tired by then.  This keeps beans continually on the menu.

I am what can be termed a lazy gardener, although I prefer to call it simple, natural and for me, sustainable gardening. I let Nature and the plants do most of the work. It works OK for me, and isn’t labour intensive.  I can spend as little or as much time as I choose in the garden and still reap the benefits.

Do you grow food Naturally in pots or in the ground?

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Seasonal Nourishment

Vegy-Garden-'10-copyHave you noticed that less and less of us are as connected to the seasons than our ancestors were? We live in heated or air-conditioned homes; drive in air-conditioned or heated cars and work or shop in climate controlled, artificial environments. Our bodies are losing their ability to harmonize with the natural changing seasons and among other things now often need artificial environments to stay warm or cool. The effect of this creates a culture that is out of ‘sinc’ with its own natural environment, both internal and external.

We are also losing touch with what foods are naturally in season. For example, in the summer more leafy green veges are in abundance along with other naturally cooling foods such as watermelons. It makes sense to eat salads and watermelon in the heat of summer to cool us down. In the winter more warming root veges grow for soups and roasts – to keep us warm in the winter. Chickens also only naturally lay eggs during spring and into summer, not all year round. Keeping in balance with the natural seasonal rhythms is much more harmonious and healthy for your body and soul.

To keep a constant supply of all foods year round, whether they are in season or not, they’re either grown in an artificial environment or transported from other parts of the country or world, and both negatively impact the price, the taste, the nutrient quality of the products and have a negative impact on the environment.

Commercial crops destined for other places need to be harvested early in the growing cycle and refrigerated so they don’t rot during transportation, in storage or on shop shelves. Produce that is harvested early in its growing cycle hasn’t had time to fully produce its nourishing nutrients or develop its flavour. Then even more flavour and nutrients are lost while in storage, making it an inferior product we have just become used to as normal.

In addition, transported produce sometimes requires irradiation (zapping with bursts of radiation) and extra chemicals for pest control, preservatives and ripening. It also requires lots of energy, which means lots of greenhouse gases too, not just from the distance traveled but also the refrigeration along the way, and the energy that goes into packaging the food for the journey and storing it when it arrives. There is a price to pay both personally and environmentally to break out of the natural seasonal rhythms of life and lots to gain eating local in season food.

Carrots-copy
We are fast forgetting what real food tastes like, naturally ripened and fresh from the plant; food that nourishes and is full of life, freshness and flavour, rather than just looking like it should be.

The cheapest, freshest and tastiest produce is locally grown food that is in season. If you are unable to grow much of your own food, buying from a local growers market can be a very good option. Or join a local organic coop. Make a pledge to only buy food that is produced within a 100km radius of where you live.

Of course, ideally, we would be growing our own food, organically and naturally, picking it and eating it fresh, straight from garden to table. Or as is often the case with me, straight from garden to mouth as I snack, or perhaps I can call it quality control, whenever I visit my garden.   Mmmm delicious!  It just tastes so good.

Do you get your produce fresh, local and organic?  Are you tuned into the Natural Seasonal Cycles of Nature?

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