In these uncertain times, keeping up with your mental health is imperative to living a balanced life. In honour of mental health month, which runs for October, we will explore how nutrition affects our mental health. As a Sydney plant-based nutritionist, I honestly cannot express enough the importance and power of healthy eating and nutrition upon our moods, and in turn, our mental health. here to edit.
To put it simply, what we eat affects our gut microbiome. Serotonin, the wonderful hormone responsible for the feeling of happiness, is predominantly produced in our gut via a healthy gut microbiome. Studies also show that a healthy gut microbiome has a regulatory effect on the neurotransmitter dopamine which is associated with feelings of pleasure, happiness and motivation. So basically a healthy gut microbiome = healthy, happy moods. How good is that?
So what do we want in our foods?
We understand it’s hard to know what to look for in foods. There are so many options, and sometimes, we just simply don’t have time to find what works for us. Here at Planting Nutrition, we believe in preventative health and implementing plant-based eating to achieve positive mental health. From the experience of a Sydney vegan nutritionist, below is a simple list of the main components to look for in food.
Unsaturated fats found in algal oil, ground flax seeds, walnuts, chia seeds, avocado and hemp seeds have anti inflammatory effects and are shown to support heathy mood regulation by reducing chronic inflammation that can affect communication and neurotransmitter function within the brain. On the other hand, saturated fats such as those found in animal fats, dairy and lard are associated with inflammation. This impairs healthy moods by both triggering an immune response and inducing brain inflammation associated with mood disorders.
Ah, carbs! I’m sure we’ve all heard of this one! But did you know they are nothing to be scared of? Carbohydrates are actually responsible for fuelling your energy levels and preventing those mood impairing energy slumps. Carbohydrates with a high glycemic index (GI) increase the risk of depression and anxiety through rapid increases and decreases in blood sugars. Therefore implementing a low GI diet will help improve your mental health.
Low GI carbohydrates are found in complex whole grains such as barley, brown rice, wholegrain sourdough, wholemeal pasta & buckwheat, legumes such as chickpeas and lentils and fruits and vegetables. High GI carbohydrates to minimise include processed white bread, white rice, pastries, processed breakfast cereals, cakes and lollies. Complex carbohydrates are also higher in fibre which feeds a healthy gut microbiome to further support healthy moods as discussed above.
Plant proteins have an unsaturated and healthier fat profile compared to most saturated fat animal proteins and are rich in fibre. Two good reasons to switch your chicken for chickpeas and beef for black beans. Plant based protein includes tofu, tempeh, edamame beans, chickpeas, lentils and nut & seeds.
Other foods to consider.
Avoid those foods that induce fatigue which can affect moods including refined sugar and alcohol. (Alcohol can actually impair a healthy gut microbiome). Even though we crave these foods when depressed for the instant dopamine release, we feel worse later. What about caffeine? Well it affects everyone differently depending on how you metabolised it. If it leaves you feeling anxious, it's better left alone. If not, enjoy your one to two cups per day.
OveralI I hope this has helped you understand the benefit for a healthy diet for positive mental health.
Here at Planting Nutrition, I am a Bondi based vegan nutritionist dedicated to tailoring nutritional advice to each unique client.
So if you’re struggling with your current mental health or diet, and want more insight into plant-based nutritional benefits, contact me today!
Plant based, Healthy Diet, Healthy Eating, Eat Real Food, Preventative Health, Plant based Eating Bondi, Nutrition Advice Bondi, Vegans of Sydney, Vegan Food, Vegans, Nutritionist, Nutrition Advice, What Nutritionists Eat, Plant-based Nutritionist, Sydney Nutritionist, Healthy food, Plant-based Recipes Bondi, Vegan Nutritionist, Sydney Vegan Nutritionist, Sydney Plant-based Nutritionist, Bondi Vegan Nutritionist, Bondi Plant-based Nutritionist, Plant-based Nutritionist Australia, Vegan Nutritionist Australia, Benefits of Soyfood
Makes around 15 muffins.
2 medium RIPE bananas, mashed
3/4 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup SR flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 180 degree celsius.
2. Prepare baking try with muffin liners or use a grease a muffin tray with olive oil.
3. In a mixing bowl, mash bananas with a fork, add milk, vinegar, maple syrup, vanilla and olive oil. Mix well with fork or whisk.
4. In a seperate mixing bowl, add flours, baking power, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and sesame seeds.
5. Pour dry ingredients into wet and combine well with spatula.
6. Stir through chocolate chips.
7. Fill muffin cases 3/4 as they will rise
8. Bake for around 23 minutes until a knife comes out clean after piercing muffin.
9. Transfer to a cooling rack or plate
Recipe inspired by @ohsheglows
banana vegan muffin, dairy free baking, egg free baking, healthy kids snacks, banana and buckwheat vegan muffin
Banana muffin, vegan muffin, healthy muffin, buckwheat muffins, plant based food, vegan food, plant based food, healthy recipes, vegan recipes
Soy is a fantastic addition to your diet. It is low fat, contains no saturated fat, is a complete protein source and provides calcium, manganese, magnesium, selenium, iron, potassium and zinc.
There are many misconceptions creating fears about soy when it comes to nutrition and health. However soy is a healthy addition to your diet, so much so that The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, The Canadian Food Guide and The Dietary Guidelines for America, to name a few, all recommend soy as part of healthy diet. Let’s look at why.
Benefits of soy?
Taste - Firstly, soy is delicious and versatile. It can be eaten as tofu, edamame beans, tempeh and soy milk to name a few.
Muscle synthesis - Soy is a great alternative to animal protein. Soy protein isolate digestibility is around 89–92%, similar to eggs at 91% or meat at 90–94%, inferring that total protein requirement is similar regardless if eating soy or animal products. Soy protein supplementation also shows similar results to whey protein in response to resistance training when producing strength gains and lean body mass.
Reduced cancer risk - Regarding cancer, soy consumption is associated with a reduced risk for hormones dependent cancers including prostate, 15% of all male cancers worldwide, and breast, the most prevalent cancer worldwide. Breast cancer recurrence may also be reduced from soy consumption.
Reduced osteoporosis and CVD risk - Soy can help prevent osteoporosis particularly in menopausual women by reducing the bone resorption process and can lower cholesterol reducing CVD risk.
I suggest opting for non processed soy such as tofu, tempeh, soy milk and edamame.
Myth 1 - All soy is genetically modified.
Most soy is genetically modified, however most of this is actually for animal feed, soybean oil production and used in processed foods. As long term health effects on human is not yet known, I would recommend non GMO soy.
Myth 2 - Soy will give you man boobs. Soy has shown to not exert feminizing effects on men at intake levels equal to or even considerably higher than intakes typical for Asian males. One man was consuming around 3 litres of soy milk per day, exceeding recommended amounts for any food, and did experience enlarged breast tissue.
Myth 3 - Soy impairs thyroid function. Soy has shown to have no effect on thyroid hormones however may raise TSH insignificantly.
Myth 4 - Soy cannot replace meat as a complete protein source. Soy is a complete protein and when incorporated as part of a healthy diet with nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, can indeed be used as a meat replacement.
plantbased, healthydiet, healthyeating, eatrealfood, preventativehealth, plantbasedeating,vegansofsydney,veganfood,vegans,nutritionist,nutritionadvice,whatnutritionistseat,plantbasednutritionist,sydneynutritionist,healthyfood,plantbasedrecipes,vegannutritionist, sydneyvegannutritionist, sydneyplantbasednutritionist, bondivegannutritionist, bondiplantbasednutritionist, plantbasednutritionistaustralia, vegannutritionistaustralia, benefitsofsoyfood, soyfood,
Iron In A Vegan Diet
Obtaining optimal iron from a plant based diet is a common concern. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world. In Western countries, energy restricted diets tend to be the cause. In developing countries, food scarcity is to blame.
Insufficient iron intake is only one factor contributing to iron deficiency anaemia. Other factors include:
Plant based foods contain natural iron absorption inhibitors (discussed below), thus the recommended iron intake for vegans is 1.8 times greater than standard recommendations. For women aged 19-50, the recommended iron intake is 18 mg a day, so for vegan women it is 32.4 mg a day (1.8 x 18).
This increased requirement does not consider the fact that iron absorption from non-heme iron, plant based iron, increases at times of increased need, such as pregnancy or poor intake. We will not however discuss this further here.
Types of Iron
Ingested iron is found in two forms, heme iron, found in animal foods, and non-heme iron, in plant foods. Non-heme iron is less readily absorbed, and can lead to lowered iron stores or lowered serum ferritin. This is actually shown to be protective against non communicable diseases, which account for 70% of deaths worldwide and are driven by unhealthy diets, smoking, lack of activity and excessive alcohol.
Absorption of non-heme iron adjusts with our our needs. In contrast, heme iron is readily absorbed regardless of need, increasing risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. There is no association with non-heme iron and these health risks.
Increasing non-heme iron absorption
Phytic acid is a phytonutrient that binds minerals, including non-heme iron, lowering absorption, and is found in grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Phytic acid is not all that bad however as it can lower blood glucose and lipid levels, has anti-cancer and antioxidant properties and can reduce arterial calcification.
50 mg of vitamin C can enhance non-heme iron absorption sixfold in those with low iron stores to offset phytic acid. Thats about 30g of red capsicum or half a kiwi fruit or one quarter cup of orange juice.
Allium foods can also diminish the effects of phytic acid by adding onion and/or garlic, sulfur compound-rich allium foods, to grains and legumes while cooking. Soaking, or activating, nuts, seeds and oats also reduces phytic acid.
As with absorption of all nutrients, optimal digestion is key. This begins with fully chewing your food and eating in a relaxed state to stimulate digestive enzymes. Gastric acid is required for iron, and B12, absorption. Zinc deficiency can impair gastric acid production as can the use of proton pump inhibitors.
See below for a one day plant based diet plan providing 40.2mg of iron, exceeding that required by women aged 19 to 50.
Breakfast - Quinoa and chia raspberry pudding
2 tbsp chia seeds
0.5 cup cooked quinoa
0.5 cup raspberries
200ml soy milk
20 g cashews
0.25 Cup dried apricots
Lunch - Spinach with lentils.7
5 C lentils cooked
2 C spinach
1 tbsp dried thyme
salt, olive oil, lemon juice and other flavours/vegetables as desired
Dinner - stir fried tofu
1 C cubed tofu
1 tbsp dried thyme
serve with veggies of choice (mushrooms, corn, cabbage, etc) and flavouring of choice (soy sauce, tahini, curry powder, etc.)