Posted by: seattledizzygroup | February 26, 2014

Food and Mood

Marley Braun plums photo from blog

Food & Mood: Top Foods for Feeling Great

by Marley Braun, MS, RD, CD

Founder of Beauty Brains & Braun Nutrition

(Presented to Seattle Dizzy Group on 2/08/14)

Discover what foods have the best mood-boosting properties and how you can incorporate these foods into your diet.  Also, learn tips to enhance emotional health, including how to combat an anxiety attack and how to manage stress as well as why sleep is important and how to get a good night’s rest.

Suffering from anxiety attacks? Try Magnesium!

Magnesium (Mg) deficiency can lead to feelings of anxiety, low energy, and irritability.

Magnesium is calming for the body and also helps with muscle cramps.

Magnesium can be absorbed through the skin.  Try soaking in Epson salts, which contain Magnesium: Place feet in a tub or basin filled with hot water (or take a hot bath). When skin is warm and pink, add cup of Epson salts. Soak for at least 15-30 minutes – ideally before bedtime – resting afterward is important. For maximum results, do 3 times per week. (Of course, if anxiety is a persistent or serious problem, please consult a doctor or therapist – this at-home remedy is not meant to take the place of professional treatment!).

  • Recommended Daily Allowance = 420 mg/day (men over 30) and 320 mg/day (women over 30)
  • Magnesium-Rich Foods
    o  Pumpkin seeds (1/4 cup = 190mg)
    o  Spinach (1 cup = 156mg)
    o  Swiss chard (1 cup = 150mg)
    o  Black beans (1 cup = 120mg)

    o  Quinoa (3/4 cup = 118mg)

(For more info about magnesium-rich foods, see “Feeling Anxious?  Try Pumpkin Seeds” blog post:

Tips for Sleep Hygiene, Stress, Exercise, and Exposure to Nature & Light

  • Avoid napping, stimulants (chocolate, nicotine, caffeine, alcohol), heavy or large meals close to bedtime, or screen time (computers, TVs) close to bedtime.
  • Establish a regular bedtime routine that is pleasant and relaxing.
  • Use sleep aids like blackout curtains, sleep mask, ear plugs, white noise machines (or fan), melatonin (low dose supplement), etc.
  • Exercise often – vigorously in the morning or afternoon and restful activities in the evening.
  • Aim for at least 2 outdoor excursions/week where you are exposed to nature.
  • Get plenty of NATURAL light (open curtains and blinds) or use a light therapy box (30 minutes/day of 10,000 lux light – Start with 10 minutes and increase gradually as body tolerates).  Light therapy boxes may help with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), general depression, and bipolar disorder.
  • Explore: mindfulness-based stress reduction, yoga, Pilates, massage, feldenkrais, biofeedback, acupuncture, meditation, etc.

Information courtesy: Dietitians in Functional Medicine;;; Ellis JG, Perlis ML, Bastien CH, Gardani M, Espie CA. The Natural History of Insomnia: Acute Insomnia and First-onset Depression. Sleep. 2014 Jan 1;37(1):97-106. Niederhofer, H., & von Klitzing, K. (2012). Bright light treatment as mono-therapy of non- seasonal depression for 28 adolescents. Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract., 16(3), 233–237.

Food First!


  • Proteins serve as precursors to neurotransmitters – namely serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine – which are responsible for feelings of wellbeing and motivation as well as relaxation.
  • Protein also helps to support balanced blood sugar and sustained energy – have an appropriate serving size of protein with EVERY MEAL (not just multiple servings at dinner).
  • Protein in the morning will help curb afternoon snacking.  More carbohydrates at night will help promote sleep.  (A low-carb diet often causes sleep issues).
  • Best biologically available sources: eggs, meat, fish, poultry
  • Sources for vegetarians/vegans: tempeh, beans/rice, quinoa, lentils
  • Complete proteins:  eggs, or food combos such as popcorn/peanuts, beans/rice, quinoa/lentils
  • Protein bars?  Often have high sugar content, so look for bars with nuts for higher protein (for example, Lara Bars).

Cold Water Fatty Fish

  • Contains EPA & DHA, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which are fundamental nutrients for brain cells.
  • Neurotransmitters travel via myelin sheathes, and the speed at which they travel is increased by EPA & DHA.
  • Best biologically available sources: wild salmon, sardines, anchovies, mackerel, grass-fed beef, pastured butter
  • Sources for vegetarians/vegans: flax & chia seeds (must be ground), walnuts, algae (pill form)
  • Food is best.  There is an additional anti-inflammatory benefit of eating fish over taking a supplement.

Seeds & Greens

  • Magnesium (Mg) and B-vitamins are used to make neurotransmitters – stress can deplete magnesium.
  • Sources: sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, asparagus, kale, Brussels sprouts
  • Cooking Tips: Toast seeds and sprinkle on salads, vegetables or eat as a snack; Roast vegetables to bring out their natural sweetness; Massage hearty greens, like kale and chard, to reduce bitterness and breakdown fibers – eat as a raw salad.  To roast vegetables, sprinkle with oil (olive or grape seed, etc.) and roast at 375 degrees for 25-35 minutes.  To massage greens, add 1 tsp. salt and massage for 2 minutes then pour off the water which contains the bitterness.  For low-salt diet, sprinkle with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar instead of salt.

Fermented Foods

  • The majority of neurotransmitters (70-80%) and 3.5 to 5 pounds of bacteria reside in the gut – both beneficial AND opportunistic – their balance is important.
  • For best health, good gut bacteria should be in control.  Avoid sugar and refined carbs which can increase bad gut bacteria.  If bad gut bacteria is in control, you may develop health conditions such as Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) which is also associated with stress and anxiety.
  • For more information about gut bacteria, see the book “The Second Brain: A Groundbreaking New Understanding of Nervous Disorders of the Stomach and Intestine” by Michael Gershon.
  • Throughout history probiotic foods were used to support gut bacteria balance.
  • Sources: kefir (drinkable yogurt), kombucha (tea), Kim chi, sauerkraut, pickles
  • You need live bacteria for health benefits, so buy fermented foods only in the refrigerated sections of the grocery store.
Save money on supplements & other health/wellness products

Real food is the best way to reach your nutrition goals, but sometimes a little extra help is needed.  Marley Braun offers her patients and friends a 10% discount at Emerson Ecologics on any and all orders.  Visit & click on LINKS.  Click on the logo and enter patient access code diet4u and postal code 98107.


Marley Braun picture

Marley Braun, MS, RD, CD

of Beauty Brains & Braun Nutrition

Registered Dietitian, Marley Braun, obtained her Master of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University and is founder of Beauty Brains and Braun Nutrition. She sees clients at Ballard Natural Medicine and most insurance is accepted. Her approach focuses on whole natural foods, culinary techniques and mindful eating. No matter what your health goals, Marley believes every meal provides an opportunity to feel better. To make an appointment call (206) 632-2154.



Facebook Page:


Also check out Marley Braun’s presentation on Nutrition Fundamentals.

Plums photo from:


Presentation information is not meant to be taken as medical advice.

Presentations posted online may include discussion notes, links, and other information added by Seattle Dizzy Group.

Download Presentation Handout PDF (original without notes):

(Join the Seattle Dizzy Group closed/secret Facebook group to download the presentation.  Send us your email address for invitation to join our Facebook group).


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