Many of us wake up too tired, moody, or completely unmotivated to embrace our inner creativity and inspiration, both of which are important to living balanced, healthy, and productive lifestyles. Get your science hat on as I guide you through a few things to know about the link between nutrition, mind, and body in getting your groove back.

Food is fuel and food is information

By this, I am talking about providing your body with the highest quality and nutrient-dense foods containing all the essential information your body needs to function. In return, you will be rewarded with mental and physical balance, good health, and energy. It is no surprise you feel tired, lethargic, moody, and unproductive if you consume a diet heavy in alcohol, refined sugars, heavy fats, preservatives, and additives. Try incorporating more of the following foods that will trigger energy and elevate your mood.

1. The power of protein

Protein is one of the important body-building nutrients making up your total dietary energy intake. Every cell within the body contains proteins made up of amino acids, the ‘building blocks’ essential for life. One particular food-derived amino acid, tryptophan, is a precursor for our happy mood-boosting hormone, serotonin. Recently, the British Journal of Nutrition published an article about a study that found that subjects’ consumption of eggs may have had beneficial effects on feelings of happiness and high-energy behaviour. Another amino acid, tyrosine, is shown to increase our noradrenaline levels, stimulating the brain to make us feel awake and alert.

If you want to prevent an energy crash or tendencies of moody behaviour by mid afternoon, consume foods rich in complete proteins, those containing all nine essential amino acids. Good sources include chicken, fish, lean beef and veal, soy products, eggs, quinoa, dairy products, nuts, and seeds. Keep in mind a combination of incomplete proteins will also provide the essential amino acids—try adding yoghurt dressing to salads and seeds or rice to lentils and vegetables. Ever wondered why the word ‘variety’ is heavily used in dietary guidelines? Time to become protein savvy!

2. Iron is energy

Iron is a key component of haemoglobin production within red blood cells and an essential mineral for energy production, transportation of oxygen around the body, and optimal immune function. Iron-deficiency anaemia is very common in developed countries with reported symptoms of tiredness, fatigue, decreased concentration, productivity, and motivation for physical activity. Lack of energy is the bad case of sleepy, slothful ‘can’t be bothered’ attitudes, so be sure to get your daily dose of this stamina mineral as well as B12 and folate.