Many Brits are feeling under the weather right now thanks to lockdown, the pandemic and the January weather.
However, despite the usual “New Year, new me” gang cracking on with running and eating healthily there are tonnes of us feeling too low to bother.
But, as many of us know, eating well and exercising is one of the best ways to combat the blues.
The link between mental health and nutrition suggests that good nutrition can significantly support mental health.
The food we eat can impact a number of mechanisms involving neurotransmitters, hormones and other biological processes in the body.
What’s your best way to fight cravings? Tell us in the comment…
Unfortunately, when we feel sad we often turn to foods that are high in fat, full of sugar and salt an are highly processed.
Why is it that bad food brings us the most pleasure?
James Collier, Head of Sustainable Nutrition at Huel, explained: “Starting with why we eat, the hunger hormone ghrelin tells our brain it’s time to seek out more food when our stomach is empty.
“It does this by stimulating the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that gives rise to positive feelings of pleasure.
“We’re all familiar with the pleasure rush dopamine gives us, such as when we treat ourselves to a purchase we’ve wanted for ages, or get excited to go on holiday.”
He continued: “However, dopamine’s most important role in the body is to motivate us to eat.
“It causes us to seek pleasure and start ‘hunting’ for food, which these days is running to the snack cupboard for a chocolate biscuit!
“Not only this, but dopamine causes our brain to remember how pleasurable the chocolate biscuit was, causing us to want to eat it again and ultimately chasing foods that give us the highest dopamine surge.
“That’s why, when we feel stressed or sad, we seek foods that will give us the most pleasure and comfort eat.”
So, what should we do about this?
Here’s James’ top tip:
He said: “Try incorporating turmeric into your diet, such as in curries or even a latte.
“It’s active ingredient, curcumin, has been found to increase levels of dopamine.
“And if you are finding yourself reaching for the biscuits too often as your body tries to chase down a dopamine surge, then it is worth relooking at what you’re eating more generally in the day.
“Opting for satiating foods at lunchtime which are high in protein and fibre – like Huel’s Hot & Savoury range – will help keep ghrelin, the hunger hormone, at bay.”