Top 10 Happy foods Number 5 – Fruit
By Tyson Hammond
Eating to feel good is something easy we can do to help our body and mind feel content and enjoy our lives a little more. Staying physically healthy is an essential part of keeping mentally and emotionally buoyant. One of the main things we can do to stay physically healthy is to eat good, nutritious food.
Over the next 5 weeks I will introduce you, one every week, to the remaining foods in my Top 10 feel good foods. Foods that work to support all the different chemical reactions that happen within our beautiful bodies to keep us healthy and strong, but most of all elevate our mood!!
Number 5 – Fruit
A big reason why I love travelling to new cultures and countries, especially the warm countries, is to eat the local fresh fruit. There’s nothing like a fresh Mango from a roadside stall in Thailand or feasting on fresh purple figs off the trees in Italy. No wonder I was so happy when I was travelling the world.
Local is best but Bananas are OK too, hmmph?
Fresh organic fruit picked off the tree is natures gift to all those with taste buds. When it comes off the tree or vine and straight into your mouth, you get all of what nature wanted to give you. The fruit is at the peak of its freshness and its nutrient retention. The longer it takes for it to get into your mouth or the further it has to travel to get to you, usually the less it is good for you. If you include the chemicals that are used to store the fruit and the vehicle emissions that are produced to get it there, it is both better for you and the environment to eat fresh and local.
The paradox with that is now I’m going to suggest you eat bananas (from South America probably), dried figs and apricots (from Turkey no doubt) for the superior tryptophan content because tryptophan will help your body produce serotonin, which is the feel good hormone. Both these type of fruits deserve a mention though when we are discussing foods that we can eat to help elevate our moods.
I’ll start with dried fruits. These can give us a valuable option in the seasons when we don’t have such a variety of local fruit to choose from. They’re easy to carry and snack on. Plus we’re also spoilt for choice these days; figs, apricots, dates, bananas, mango, peaches, raisins, cranberries, kiwifruit, apple and pear are all available dried. Be careful of the hidden processed sugars in some of these dried fruits, like the cranberries and mango.
Bananas stand out because not only are they rich in tryptophan they choc-a-block full of magnesium and B vitamins which both have been found in respected research to help elevate the mood.
Fruit as a food group helps keep us looking on the bright side of life in so many ways. From the vibrant colours of the flowers, which develop into vibrant coloured fruit, to the nutrients they contain which helps keep our immune systems functioning well. Lets face it, the less often we spend feeling under the weather with a cough or cold or something worse, the happier we are. The key to this is the amount of antioxidants fruit contain.
Here’s a quick explanation how this happens (Caution: the following is a bit scientific) – free radicals in the body created from stress for example can damage other substances or tissues because they are highly reactive and unstable. Antioxidants neutralise free radicals by donating an electron or two protecting the body’s tissues from any damage these free radicals might’ve caused. The more antioxidants we have in our body the healthier we are. This is why Vitamin C is so effective as immune support because it loses electrons easily allowing it to perform as an antioxidant.
In the same way the complex structure of the natural sugars in fruit can help keep you in a happy and stable mood they can also help you reduce & eliminate the need for processed sugar in your diet. Replacing the processed sugar in your diet with fruit sugars help keep your blood sugar levels stable so your body doesn’t have to work so hard to control your moods as it does when eating processed sugar. When you have the cravings for the sweet taste replacing the sugary treats with some fresh pineapple, a few dried figs or the like, is the first step. Using fruit sugars to mediate the effects of the processed sugar, over time your body becomes more sensitive to the fruit sugars and they become sweeter to the taste. The effects and the addiction to the processed sugar and the chemicals in it dissipate from the body. Your body then recognises the same amount of processed sugar that was eaten regularly before as intensely sweet and too potent to enjoy.
Tyson Hammond is a medical herbalist and a naturopath living in Golden Bay. He is currently developing online health programs for ‘Wellgrounded Integrative Healthcare’ a company focused on helping people integrate beneficial and sustainable changes into theirs lives.