• By Amanda Blackburn.

How to eat your way to happiness.

Did you know that people have healed their cancer by changing their diet? Certain foods can help heal you quicker, this is a proven fact! If you don’t believe me go check it out for yourself online, there are thousands of stories from people who have shared their healthy diet experiences. I’ve been healing my mental health by eating certain foods. I have been eating tryptophan foods daily for the last eight weeks and I’m feeling happier than I’ve ever felt. If you are suffering from your mental health, read on, let me help you feel happy too.

You may have a shortage of serotonin if you have a sad depressed mood, low energy, negative thoughts, feel tense and irritable, crave sweets, and have a reduced interest in sex? Other serotonin-related disorders include depression and anxiety. By increasing the serotonin in your body naturally, you can also enhance your mental state and your motivation.

As a neurotransmitter, serotonin relays signals between nerve cells, or neurons, regulating their intensity. In the brain, serotonin impacts levels of mood, anxiety, and happiness. If you have good levels of Serotonin in your brain then your anxiety, happiness, and moods are regulated. If you have low levels of the chemical then this may be what’s causing your depression.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps in your body’s production of serotonin. Serotonin is synthesized from tryptophan. Tryptophan is also associated with mood issues, like depression and anxiety. High-tryptophan foods won’t increase serotonin on their own, food has to compete with other amino acids to be absorbed into the brain. Your best chance at achieving a serotonin boost is to eat them often, with a serving of healthy carbohydrates, like rice, oatmeal, or whole-grain bread.

You can increase your levels of tryptophan and serotonin by taking medicine and supplements.

I tried taking medication to help and although it did help me, it didn’t make me feel as good as I have felt by eating certain foods daily.


Pineapples are a major source of bromelain, a protein that can reduce the side effects of chemotherapy as well as help suppress coughs. It’s not always easy to find a good pineapple in the U.K. but it is easy to find pineapple juice and if you are a bit lazy like me and don’t want to be cutting a pineapple up daily this option is for you. 100 per cent pineapple juice isn’t expensive and it’s unlike other fruit juices, pineapple juice is so sweet on its own that no sugar needs to be added. The only substance that is normally added to it is ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C. This is added to protect colour and flavour. If you prefer your juice without the extra vitamin boost, you can always juice the fruit yourself. Be sure to avoid any pineapple drinks that are juice-like products and not actually juice. These drinks are just flavoured sugar water and should be avoided.

•Tofu-Soy products

•Nuts & Seeds. Studies show that eating a handful of nuts a day can lower your risk for cancer, heart disease, and respiratory problems. Nuts and seeds are also good sources of fibre, vitamins, and antioxidants.

Remember when eating any of the above tryptophan foods you will need to mix with carbs to get a better boost of serotonin.

I’ve also been increasing my intake of vitamin B6, B12, magnesium and vitamin C. Vitamin B6 is important for serotonin production. Vitamin B6 must be present to convert tryptophan into serotonin. Vitamin B6 is found in bananas, grains, nuts, seeds, avocado and cauliflower. Vitamin B12 with folate also helps the production of serotonin. Foods rich in B12 include fish, meat and cheese. Foods high in folate include broccoli, cabbage, leafy greens vegetables and whole grains.

Vitamin C helps release the stress hormone cortisol (too much cortisol can cause depression). Foods that contain Vitamin C are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, green and red peppers, spinach, cabbage, turnip greens, and other leafy greens. Sweet and white potatoes. Tomatoes and tomato juice. Winter squash. Orange, kiwi, lemon, guava, grapefruit, papaya, cantaloupe and strawberries.

Magnesium can help control blood pressure, regulate nerve cell function and also enhance serotonin. Magnesium deficiency in the brain may lower your serotonin levels. Consume daily magnesium-rich foods like dark greens and bananas, this will double your chances of feeling good.

I have included a few ideas of my daily diet below. I haven’t included everything tryptophan-rich into my diet but what I have included has been enough for me. When you start to follow this healthy eating plan you will notice what works for you. When I eat a kiwi it wakes me up and gives me a boost when I’m starting to feel tired. Oranges also have the same effect.

Make sure to include foods containing magnesium, vitamin C, B6, B12 and folate along with tryptophan-rich foods and combine them with carbs and you too can eat your way to happiness. A few examples of my daily intake. Breakfast: Baked beans on toast or oven-baked potato waffle. A glass of 100% pineapple juice. Snack: A handful of cashew nuts.

Kiwi or orange.


Whole grain rice with at least three vegetables and soya burger.

Or: Wholemeal vegetable pasta made from scratch with lots of garlic and at least three vegetables.

Or: Sweet potato, at least three vegetables and two birds eye pea protein vegan sausages.

Or: Roast potatoes, at least three vegetables.

Other daily foods:

A bowl of low sugar/salt Swiss-style muesli with chopped banana, coconut milk and a squirt of honey.

Or: A few slices of wholemeal bread with jam or avocado.

Or: A wholemeal wrap with falafel, cucumber, onion and tomatoes.

I also drink coffee and green tea throughout the day and I also have the occasional biscuit or little treat.

More Happiness:

Try to get some sunlight if possible. Adequate amounts of sunshine light absorbed through the skin produces vitamin D. Vitamin D has many functions, including assisting in serotonin production.

Be positive:

Change your attitude and perspective, influence your brain. When you do things you enjoy, you feel better. When positive thoughts and feelings are generated, cortisol decreases and the brain produces serotonin.

Practice meditation:

Meditation is believed to raise an acid called 5-HIAA in the brain that is directly related to serotonin.


Getting regular exercise is so important for your physical and mental health. Getting regular exercise increases tryptophan and 5-HIAA as well as helps trigger the release of feel-good chemicals.

Get a massage:

Massage can boost your mind to increase your serotonin levels and can also reduce your cortisol levels.

I practice yoga daily, go to a Zumba class twice a week and walk over a mile a day. I struggle to get sunlight in the Winter in the U.K. so I make sure to eat extra foods containing Vitamin D. Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some orange juice, soy milk, and cereals. This diet is a plant based diet only.

I know it’s difficult to motivate yourself when you are feeling depressed, I do promise you will feel better if you follow any of the above methods. Keep believing in yourself, if I can do it so can you.


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