Food and mood have a long-standing relationship, which goes beyond just eating a chocolate bar to feel good! All of the foods we consume can directly affect our mood.

If we supply our body with the correct, healthy, nutritious fuel from our diet, we provide it with the key building blocks required to create neurotransmitters, hormones, support cognitive health and more. 

Read on below to learn about the link between what we eat and mental health, using food to support our mood: 

BLOOD SUGAR CONTROL
Ever wondered why you feel irritable and frustrated when you miss a meal or are over-hungry? We have this thing called blood sugar aka blood glucose. All of the foods we eat directly impact our blood sugar levels, some more than others…. And certain foods can take our blood sugar too high, and too low. This is called the blood sugar roller coaster.  When your blood sugar is on a daily roller coaster ride, your mood is usually likely to follow. 

Over consuming sugars, refined carbohydrates, alcohol and missing meals can all lead to spikes and dips in blood sugar levels. These fluctuations in blood sugar levels can impact physical health and emotional wellbeing, putting stress on many-body systems. 

What can we do to get off this mood crashing roller coaster? Aim to eat well-balanced meals at every opportunity, with a mixture of complex carbohydrates, protein, good quality fats and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. 

FOCUS ON NUTRIENT INTAKE
There are a number of key vitamins and minerals that contribute to energy levels, relaxation, brain function and mood. These include:

INCLUDE PROTEIN
Protein-rich foods contain amino acids, which help produce key neurotransmitters in preventing and treating depression and anxiety, helping to regulate all thoughts and feelings. In addition, protein helps to keep us full and balance our blood sugar levels. 

Opt for a combination of good quality animal and plant-based proteins including legumes, nuts, seeds, and oily fish. 

SUPPORT YOUR GUT HEALTH
Over 95% of serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for feeling happy, is created in the Gut, therefore looking after our gut looks after the mind. Happy gut, happy mind.

When the digestive system is compromised, our gut is not as efficient at creating serotonin. Low levels of serotonin can bring down our mood, resulting in low mood and potential anxiety and depression.

Certain medications, environmental toxins, stress, pathogenic bacteria, overconsumption of processed foods and refined sugars can all contribute to leaky gut, a situation where the protective junctions of your intestinal lining become compromised. 

This can further lead to inflammation, which can cause neurological inflammation and have a big impact on our mood, energy, sleep patterns, concentration and more. 

Ways to support gut health include:

BE MINDFUL OF STIMULANTS
Stimulants, including caffeine and alcohol, may impact your mood. When we consume caffeine, our body produces stress hormones in response. These stress hormones, such as Cortisol, can increase stress levels and potentially trigger mood changes.

Alcohol is a well-known depressant, commonly affecting mood, immune system, energy and sleep when consumed regularly. 

When consuming any stimulants, pay close attention to how it makes you feel. If you feel yourself getting anxious, irritable, low in mood or jittery, I recommend reducing or eliminating them from your diet, and monitor how you feel. 

Swap out for non-alcoholic alternatives such as MEDAS no-low beverages. 

OVERALL
Food can positively impact our mood, but if you are suffering or concerned about someone else’s mental health, it is important to reach out to a professional for support. MIND charity is a great place to start and offers some wonderful resources for people.

It’s that time of year when those beautiful, foil-covered choccies wink at you from the supermarket aisle, and when the scent of cinnamon-covered hot cross buns can sometimes be just too much to resist. It’s been a tough year, and with the end of lockdown in sight and the promise of warmer, sunnier times ahead, you may feel like a little well-deserved celebration. Here are some ways you can stay healthy over Easter – whilst enjoying a few lockdown treats.

Start the day with a healthy breakfast
Instead of reaching for a regular hot cross bun, choose a wholemeal version instead. Try some healthy pancake recipes, ones which use bananas instead of flour, and top with natural sugars such as coconut sugar, maple syrup or fruit — raspberries, pomegranates and blueberries are full of antioxidants.

Instead of Easter eggs try the real variety instead. These include vitamins A, B-12 and selenium, ingredients which are good for your immune system. A protein-packed egg can help you feel fuller for longer, meaning you might not need to reach for the naughtier version!

Get active
Start your day with some big breaths, a dose of meditation or a fun Easter walk with the family. Join an online exercise class one, or if the weather permits, go for a long cycle ride. Spring cleaning the house is also a great way to burn off a few calories.

Take it easy
Enjoy every mouthful and eat slowly and mindfully. Don’t overload your plate, and take breaks during the meal. This kick-starts your digestion and can trick your brain into thinking you’re full. If you’re hungry between meals, reach for healthier options such as fruit, nuts, popcorn or dark chocolate.

Enjoy some chocolate
You read that right. The right kind of chocolate can be good for you. It’s full of antioxidants, and flavanols which can reduce inflammation and cardiovascular disease. It is also high in magnesium, iron, copper and manganese. Just make sure you’re grazing in moderation and that you pick a dark chocolate with a 70% or higher cocoa content.

Satisfy your sweet tooth
If you’re going to tuck into sweets, look for natural ones which are low in sugar and contain real fruit juice. You could try dark chocolate-covered almonds, a natural fruit sorbet or maple-roasted bananas.

Make the healthier choice
Swap the roasted potatoes for roasted carrots, and instead of lamb, go for turkey which is leaner and lower in calories. Oven-baked salmon is a great way to get omega-3 essential fatty acids and it can both lower your blood pressure and reduce inflammation. Remember to eat plenty of delicious, vitamin-loaded seasonal spring vegetables. For Easter pudding, bake a carrot cake instead of a chocolate-loaded one.

Hydrate
Remember to hydrate, especially if drinking alcohol. Think about using low-calorie mixer tonics instead of sweet, carbonated drinks such as the MEDA NO-LO range. If you’re going to drink juice, water it down so you’re reducing your sugar intake.

Don’t feel guilty!
Enjoy your Easter time. It’s been a hard year, and we all deserve a treat now and then.

Ever thought that embarking on a quick detox diet will be the quick answer to your health goals? Detox diets and products have become a thing of norm among the world of Instagram and influencers but these detox promises can often cause more damage than good. Read on to hear about the dark side of detoxes by our in-house nutritionist.

Detox teas
Often touted to help you get a “flat stomach” or “lose weight”, these detox teas can be packed with ingredients that you wouldn’t find in your standard herbal infusion. One of the reasons you may get ‘results’ from these teas is the addition of laxatives – products that promote increased bowel movements and diuretics – ingredients that make you urinate excessively.

When used in excess, laxatives can irritate the gut and lead to diarrhoea, dehydration and stomach cramps. They impact nutrient absorption and in the long-term affect the way your bowels work.

One of the main ingredients to watch out for is Senna – a natural laxative that can be helpful in the short run for periods of strain or constipation but is not for long term consumption!

Fasting
Fasting is an ancient ritual that has been used for centuries, and while certain dietary regimens that include some fasting have been shown to be beneficial, there is a dark side to fasting. Fasting for long periods of time can leave people dehydrated, increase risk of fainting or dizziness, can trigger additional stress in the body and can impact female sex hormones. If you want to introduce fasting to support your health, start with a 12 hour fast and incrementally increase the hours over time until you get to a comfortable point without feeling shaky or low in energy – with a good upper time frame of 16 hours fasting.

Weight loss pills
They may seem appealing, but the rows of pill bottles to help you shed weight or speed up the metabolism are far from miracle cures. They are often packed with caffeine, capsaicin (a chemical from jalapenos), green tea, L-carnitine and chromium. Studies suggest that some of these ingredients can impact appetite and calorie burn however the direct impact they will have on your weight loss journey is likely to be limited. And high consumption of some ingredients such as caffeine and L-Carnitine can have negative side effects.

It is agreed among diet and health professionals that the most sustainable, healthy way to lose weight is to move, de-stress and eat a well-balanced diet!

Juice cleanses
A juice cleanse can have its benefits. Giving your digestive system a break, can help you pack in nutrients and keeps you hydrated. However, long-term or very regular juice cleanses can leave you lacking in nutritional intake. Fat and protein are two macro nutrients groups that are key for health, and missing in a juice cleanse diet. Additionally, juicing can leave us with little fibre to break down which is not good for the gut! If doing a juice cleanse, opt for predominantly green juices and keep it to a short period of time or add in some protein rich snacks.

Is 2021 the year you are going to kick your sugar habit? Whether you go cold turkey or just want to sensibly navigate sugars, here are some of our in-house nutritionist’s favourite hacks and hints to help you.

Look for Hidden Sugar 
Consuming less sugar isn’t always as easy as cutting out sweet foods. Sugar is added into many foods, savoury options too such as soups, crackers, crisps and breads.

So how do we navigate this? Read your food labels to understand where sugar has been added.

First up, ingredients are listed in highest percentage first so look out for any sugar in the first five ingredients. And remember sugar has many names including sorbitol, dextrose, fructose, glucose, barley malt, cane syrup.

Don’t Skimp on Fat and Protein at Meal Times 
When we are short on fat or protein in our meals we are more likely to feel hungry a few hours later. And when we are hungry, we are more likely to reach for sugary/starchy foods. Ensure one quarter of your plate is protein and add some good fats too.

If you are opting for something sweet, pairing it with fat and/or protein can help slow the release of the sugars, giving you less of a high and consequent sugar crash low.

Avoid Sweet Breakfasts 
If we start the day with something sweet we hit go on the blood sugar rollercoaster – a situation where our blood sugar yo-yos’ all day leaving us with energy highs and lows. When this happens and our energy crashes, our body tells us to reach for fast acting energy sources – aka sugar. Start the day with something that has protein, fats, complex carbohydrates and veggies such as an omelette with sweet potato and spinach.

Choose One and Once 
If you can’t kick the sweet tooth entirely set yourself a limit of one time per day and one portion — instead of picking at sugar all day long. if you choose just one opportunity you are still able to enjoy something sweet without it impacting your health goals. That one opportunity is for one portion — not five!

Opt for Naturally Sweet Alternatives 
While berries don’t taste the same as sweeties; eventually as you cut back on refined sugars you will begin to notice that naturally sweet foods taste sweet. And while it might be tempting to reach for coconut sugar or date syrup in your baking —  when you add sugar, you add sugar. Instead reduce the overall added sugar and swap to non-refined alternatives that may be a little slower release and provide a little additional minerals and vitamins.

Make Simple Swaps 

Milk chocolate for 70% plus dark chocolate.

Sweets for fruit bowls and berries.

Fizzy drinks with sparkling water and herbs or explore MEDA’s range of drinks and mixers which are low in added sugars.

Use salsa instead of ketchup.

Add real fruit to plain yogurt.

If you are leading a stressful life it is essential you also get a daily dose of calm and clarity. We all know the importance of exercise and meditation and how this helps to relieve stress. You can also look to the natural world for a helping hand with mood-enhancing herbs. These can be taken as a supplement, a herbal tea in your bedtime cuppa or can be found in one of our MEDA beverages. 

Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric
Turmeric, or the active component curcumin, isn’t just used to zhoosh up a curry. This anti-inflammatory and antioxidant botanical also has powerful brain healing properties which help to improve mood and memory. Turmeric is often used to help with circulation and helps to support the nervous system. We have paired turmeric with liposomal CBD and ginger in our MEDA Recovery drink.

Relaxing Chamomile
This ancient medicinal herb contains apigenin which is nature’s sedative —  reducing anxiety and promoting sleep. Chamomile can be found in MEDA’s Calm drink alongside calming lavender essential oils and lemon balm or enjoyed as an evening cuppa.

Relaxing Rhodiola
Rhodiola is a famed adaptogen. A natural substance that can help support your body’s resistance and adaptation to stress.Try rhodiola as a supplement or tea.

 [1] One study found that those given 400mg per day had a reduction in work related stress and anxiety. 

Motivational Matcha
Matcha green tea contains L-theanine, a natural energiser that doesn’t have the stimulating side-effects of caffeine. Matcha green tea is also full of antioxidants which is great for fortifying the immune system and it contains chlorophyll, which is a natural detoxifier. Green tea may help support weight loss, thanks to the increased production of thermogenesis (how the body burns calories). 

Adrenal Supporting Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha, or Indian Ginseng, is one of the most powerful and rejuvenating herbs in Ayurvedic medicine. It’s an adaptogen herb which means it provides adrenal gland support (the gland responsible for creating many of our stress hormones). This support can potentially reduce our cortisol levels which in turn may reduce stress or calm our stress responses.  Ashwagandha can be found alongside chamomile in MEDA Calm.

N.B: Please always check with your GP before taking any herbs if you are on any medication or havea chronic disease or concern. This information is not a replacement to medical care or intended to diagnose.


[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22228617/

We’ve only got one liver and it is a vital organ. Our liver is responsible for making glucose from carbohydrates, storing nutrients, creating bile for fat break-down and cholesterol. It also helps us eliminate waste products and toxins and it even plays a role in our immune system health. And did you know that the liver is the only organ in the body that can regenerate!

While for most of us our liver works the way it should occasionally it could do with some TLC. Read on below to learn how we can support our liver health through diet.

Be mindful of fats 

Fats are a fantastic source of fuel and the right kind of fats help us produce hormones, protect our nerves and play a role in cognitive health. However, intake of trans and saturated fats can impact the health of the liver as well as cardiovascular health. Be mindful of your intake of margarines, excess vegetable oils and fried foods and opt for using olive oil, nuts and seeds.

Get in that fibre 

Fibre from our diets can help stimulate enzymes in the liver and can encourage bile acid function needed for liver metabolism and absorption of fats. A diet low in fibre can put further pressure on the detox pathways in the liver. Without fibre our digestive systems don’t clear out as much of the debris and by production of waste from our food – leaving the liver overworked!

The recommended daily intake of fibre is 30g per day; so focus on foods such as nuts, seeds, veggies and fruit, pulses and wholegrains.

Moderate your alcohol intake

Alcohol and the liver are not friends. The liver tolerates alcohol but when alcohol comes over a little too often the relationship turns sour. While moderate alcohol consumption is normal and our bodies are equipped to tolerate it, if we consume alcohol in significant amounts and consistently, we can put too much pressure on the liver.  Try out lower or non-alcoholic alternative such as MEDA’s NO-LO range which also contains CBD which has been linked in some studies to be potentially liver protective. [1]

Coffee makes your liver smile 

Coffee gets a bit of a bad rep but when it comes to the liver the science is in – your daily cup of joe can actually be a good thing!

Studies have linked coffee consumption to a reduction in liver cancer, liver fibrosis and progression of liver disease.[2]

Keep to under 400mg of caffeine from coffee per day (that’s roughly 5 espresso shots).  For further reading, check out the British Liver Trusts advice here: https://britishlivertrust.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/The-health-benefits-of-coffee-BLT-report-June-2016.pdf

Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. 

The liver, like many organs in the body, requires hydration to function optimally. Ensure you are getting in your H20 even in the colder months ahead. If you find it a struggle to hit your 1.5-2 litres every day try adding in herbs, berries a drop of cordial or half a can of one of MEDA’s CBD drinks. 

Please note if you have any chronic condition or liver disease please work with your medical practitioner. This advice is not to be used as a supplement for medical care and is not intended to diagnose.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4112960/

[2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S104727970100223X

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0016508507005689

We have the power to bring down inflammation through the foods we choose to eat so forget the medicine cabinet and let your fridge hold the answer to reducing inflammation and preventing disease. Read on for our resident Nutritionist’s tips to following an anti-inflammatory diet.

What is an anti-inflammatory diet?
Inflammation is our bodies natural immune response but when we have chronic or long-term inflammation we can be left with symptoms or disease progression. Many foods can increase or prompt an inflammatory response while others can protect from or reduce inflammation.

By following an anti-inflammatory diet you are reducing inflammation and improving overall health. The Mediterranean diet filled with veg, fruits, wholegrains, fish and healthy fats is a great eating plan to consider.

Inflammatory foods to be removed

Sugar

Over consumption of sugar causes your body to release inflammatory messengers called cytokines. Aim to keep your added sugars under 30g per day and opt for natural sugars from fruits.

Refined carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates such as white breads, pastries, pastas etc are those that have had the fibre removed from them and tend to shoot our blood glucose levels up. Fibre helps balanced blood sugar levels, keeps us full, helps our bowel movements and our gut.[1] Intake of refined carbohydrates has been linked to the growth of inflammatory gut bacteria. 

Swap to wholegrain options such as oats, brown rice and quinoa.

Processed foods

Burgers, fries, pastries, crisps, junk foods, processed meats and fizzy drinks – these processed foods have been stripped of nutrients or have added sugars, stabilisers, preservatives, colours etc tend to be low in nutritional value and higher in pro-inflammatory ingredients. Opt for fresh food cooked from scratch when possible.

Anti-inflammatory foods to include

Antioxidants

Antioxidants can help to reduce oxidative stress which plays a role in inflammation production and can help to repair cell and tissue damage caused by inflammation! They are mostly found in colourful fruits and veggies such as berries, squashes, greens, beetroots, turmeric, ginger and green tea.

Eat more plants

Vegetables and fruits contain many of the nutrients we need for bodily processed as well as anti-inflammatory compounds. Eat a rainbow of colours at every opportunity!

Healthy fats 

Olive oil, nuts and avocado all contain monounsaturated fats which are anti-inflammatory and fantastic for heart health. Use these in your diet regularly.

Omega-3 foods

Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in regulating your body’s inflammatory process as well as being fantastic for brain, nervous system and heart health. You can find omega-3 fats in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and in plant-based sources such as walnuts, pecans, flax and chia seeds.

Wholegrains and pulses 

Both these food groups are high in fibre which can help feed our beneficial gut bacteria, helping them to produce inflammation reducing compounds such as short chain fatty acids. Plus they also tend to be filled with nutrients and some antioxidants. Opt for quinoa, oats, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, lentils, chickpeas and beans.


[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22826636/

Many of us know that eating a healthy diet is going to be beneficial for our physical health but are you aware that the foods we do and don’t consume can also impact our mental health? Our resident nutritionist Clarissa Lenherr shares her insight on the link between nutrition and mental health and how we can use diet to support our mood.

The Relationship 
Think of our bodies like an engine. An engine needs a particular kind of fuel to function optimally. Give it the wrong fuel and it might begin to slow, break-down and act up — give it the right fuel and it will perform like a racehorse! If we supply our bodies with healthy fuel from our diet we are giving our cells energy, providing our brain with resources to support cognitive functions, and delivering the building blocks needed to create neurotransmitters and hormones. All of these things impact our mood. There are several elements that contribute to this premium fuel source for optimal mood including eating balanced plates for energy, nutrient intake/deficiencies, gut health and consumption of stimulants. Let’s delve into each one.

Balance your Blood Sugar 
When your blood sugar is on a roller coaster ride all day, your mood is likely to follow suit. Ever wonder why you get irritable and frustrated when you skip a meal? Over consumption of sugars, refined carbohydrates, alcohol and skipping meals contribute to low and high blood sugar. Not only can these fluctuations in blood sugar impact physical health which puts stress on many body systems — they can also affect your emotional well-being. Aim for well balanced meals at every opportunity combining good quality fats, protein, complex carbohydrates and plenty of fruit and veg.

Focus on Nutrient Intake
Did you know that certain nutrients including B vitamins, Vitamin D and Magnesium all play a part in our energy, relaxation, brain function and mood. Aim to include variety and multi-colours of fruit and veg when you possibly can to ensure you are getting in adequate nutrients through your diet. When it comes to Vitamin D, the NHS recommends that between the months of October to April that people living in the UK take a low dose vitamin D supplement of 10mcg to avoid deficiency. This is down to the fact that our optimum source of Vitamin D comes from the sunshine, which is sparse during the summer months.

Support your Gut Health
Our gut has been named our second brain and for good reason! Over 95% of serotonin, one of our neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of happiness, is created in the gut. Read more here on the link between our mood and gut health, and what we can do about it.  https://medahuman.com/how-having-a-healthy-gut-can-help-your-mood-the-science/

Be Mindful of Stimulants
Caffeine and alcohol can often be a trigger or potentially exacerbate your mood/mental health concerns. When we consume caffeine, our bodies produce stress hormones in response. These stress hormones can then go on to trigger mood swings and feelings of stress, which is not ideal when you are trying to manage your mood. Alcohol is a known depressant and can effect our mood, energy, immune system and sleep when consumed frequently. If you notice that you feel anxious, irritable, low in mood or jittery when consuming these beverages then aim to reduce and/or eliminate them from your diet. One way to potentially offset some of the side effects of caffeine and alcohol is to pair your drink with CBD which anecdotally can help people feel calmer and less jittery. Check out MEDA Calm and MEDA Focus for a soothing and stimulating beverage replacement.

We’ve all been there. Whether it is that 3/4pm afternoon slump, triggered by lowered mood or just fancy a sweet boost, when the sugar cravings kick in and you give in to temptation; your happy and pleasure levels rise as a result, providing a blissful high; however, soon after, you’re on a downward slope of energy.

This is otherwise known as the blood sugar rollercoaster, which can send our energy, mood, productivity and general wellbeing up and down all day! When our energy is low and we trough, our body sends signals to our brain to tell us to find quick energy to get us back up into a normal blood sugar/energy range. And those quick energy sources tend to be found in foods containing large amounts of sugar – and ta-da, sugar cravings! Unfortunately, if we consume highly sugary foods when this occurs, we get a peak and another fall, setting us back up into the same situation. 

While ignoring these cravings is easier said than done, there are some easy tricks you can use to effectively overcome your sweet tooth.

Welcome to Part II of MEDA’S gut health vs mood series. Now that you’ve read the science (if you haven’t, you can find the piece here) we want to equip you with the top five things you can do to boost your gut health and consequently your mood.

Introduce probiotic rich foods
Probiotic rich foods are foods that are live with gut-friendly bacteria that are beneficial for our digestive system. And no, we are not talking about eating your 3-month-old cheddar covered in blue fuzz, we are talking about fermented foods. Fermented foods are foods that have undergone fermentation and microbial growth in order to provide us with advantageous bacteria. Our favourites include: Kefir, Kombucha, Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Live Miso and Live Yogurt. Try incorporating these 3-5 times per week to reap the rewards.

Incorporate prebiotic rich foods
Our existing, or newly added friendly bacteria, need fibre to feed off and thrive. And this is where prebiotic foods enter in. Prebiotic foods are those that are rich in insoluble fibre and hard for our digestive system to break down. Why is this good you may ask? It means the fibre makes it to the intestines still intact, giving our bacteria the opportunity to feed off them. Good bacteria, fibre-rich prebiotic foods to reach for include: raw garlic, onions, Jerusalem artichokes, flax seeds, apples and oats.

Eat the rainbow
Variety is key for the trillions of bacteria that reside in our gut. The more plant-based, colourful foods you can incorporate into your diet, the better your gut bacteria will dine! Aim for 20/30 different plant-based foods in your diet per week. A top tip – reach for foods you’ve never tried before that are in season.

Chew
Digestion doesn’t begin in your stomach; what happens in your mouth is a central part of digestion. Chewing breaks down your food into smaller pieces and allows the digestive enzymes in your mouth to further breakdown your food. Ideally, try to chew your food 20-30 times before you swallow to make sure it is properly broken down. 

Take a rest
Giving your gut and the gut bugs that live there a break from digesting food can help keep your gut thriving and happy. Try having 12 hours between your last meal of the day and first meal the next day to give yourself the necessary rest. Think 8pm dinner time cut off, and 8 am breakfast time!