Best nutrients for health and well-being

It’s no secret that what you eat plays a huge role in your physical and mental wellbeing. In fact, the food you consume affects your mood, productivity and susceptibility to disease. As we develop a deeper understanding of the effects of our diet we can tweak it to improve our health. But where to start?

In this post we have done the research for you. Here’s some insight into the nutrients that may benefit your day-to-day life. Whether you find it difficult to focus whilst at work, feel stressed or want to boost feelings of happiness and contentment, the solution may be through your stomach.



Feelings of stress, worry and anxiety can be alleviated by consuming nutrients that help to balance your brain’s neurotransmitters. There is no miracle cure for stress, but we are more prone to anxious thoughts if our neurotransmitters are imbalanced. A diet consisting of regular lean protein could help. Neurotransmitters are made of the amino acids in proteins, so try to eat some protein at each mealtime.

B vitamins are also important as our body needs these to convert proteins into neurotransmitters. This means that at times of stress more B vitamins are needed. Foods like wholegrains, eggs and pulses are good sources of the B vitamins 6, 9, 12, thiamine and folate.

Our gut microbiome also plays a big role in many of our mental processes. An imbalance in gut bacteria can cause our bodies to produce more stress chemicals, which drives anxiety. To maintain a healthy gut, eat a balanced diet including prebiotics (like garlic, onions and leeks) and probiotics (kefir, kimchi, kombucha and yoghurt), which support the correct levels of bacteria.

During periods of stress, it is important to avoid foods containing caffeine, alcohol and high levels of fat and refined sugar. Caffeine, for instance, is a stimulant and causes increased release of stress hormones like cortisol.



If you often feel fatigued and struggle to find the energy to get through the day, it may be time to take a look at your diet. Your body needs three main nutrients for energy; carbohydrates, protein and fats. After each meal, your body breaks down these nutrients so that it can absorb them to use as fuel. If you skip a meal, your body will not receive the fuel required to create energy, so be sure to eat three balanced meals per day. Try to include complex carbohydrates like high-fibre cereals, wholegrain bread and beans, as these offer prolonged energy because they are digested at a slow, constant rate.

Staying hydrated is also imperative to maintaining a good energy level throughout the day. Dehydration causes a lack of energy as water is necessary for the digestion, absorption and transport of nutrients. So if you aren’t drinking the recommended six to eight glasses of water per day, you may be eating the right fuels but your body may not be receiving them.

Avoid alcohol, it is a depressant and will reduce your energy levels. Simple carbohydrates, like sugary sweets and biscuits, should also be avoided. These offer an initial burst of energy but are rapidly digested, so after 30 to 60 minutes you may feel a slump.



We all have days when focussing on a simple task is difficult and procrastination becomes too tempting. But did you know, the food you eat can help to improve our ability to concentrate throughout the day? A bad diet can easily lead to sub-optimal focus and memory. To keep your brain in peak working condition make sure you are consuming a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s make up half of the brain’s fat content, roughly 30% of its overall structure. These fatty acids are used directly to build brain and nerve cells, so are imperative for learning, memory and concentration. Our body doesn’t naturally produce Omega-3s, so it is important that we get a good source of them in our diet by eating things like salmon, trout and sardines.

Another important nutrient to improve brain function is creatine. Although it has been labelled as a supplement just for gym junkies, creatine is produced in our bodies naturally and plays an important role in energy metabolism in our brains, as well as our muscles. Research has uncovered some striking results, finding it improves memory, intelligence and relieves fatigue. It is found primarily in red meat and seafood, so vegetarians may want to invest in a creatine supplement.

Caffeine is also known to improve focus. Studies show it can enhance reaction time, memory and overall brain function, but some sources are better than others, so don’t head to Starbucks just yet. Instead, reach for a mug of green tea. The herbal drink offers the heightened focus benefits of caffeine without the jitters, as it also contains the amino acid L-theanine which improves GABA levels in your brain. GABA inhibits certain brain signals, decreasing the activity of your nervous system, offering a calming effect.



Now more than ever, we need to be boosting our immunity any way we know how. Unsurprisingly, your diet can help here too, as many nutrients can effect your body’s ability to produce an immune response.  The key here, is to eat a healthy, balanced diet that offers enough nutrients to maintain the health and function of all body cells, including immune cells. Critically, vitamins C and D, zinc and selenium are all required for cells involved in the immune response.

The gut microbiome also plays a big role in our body’s immune response, with 70-80% of the body’s immune cells found in the gut. Healthy microbiota produces signals that support the development of immune cells and contribute to the fine tuning of immune responses. Balanced gut bacteria can be achieved by eating a diet rich in high-fibre plant-based foods. These support the growth and maintenance of beneficial microbes.



You might think eating for happiness involves comfort food on the sofa. Actually boosting your mood through food is much more scientific than that. Vitamin C, found in citrus fruits, bell peppers and broccoli, is essential for the production of neurotransmitters, including those involved in mood stability like dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin. Studies have found boosting blood levels of vitamin C reduces feelings of depression, anger and distress.

Vitamin B6 has a similar effect. It is required for your body to produce the mood-boosting neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine and melatonin, so it is no surprise that B6 deficiency can lead to depression. Carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes and bananas are all good sources of vitamin B6.

Magnesium is another important player for improving your mood as well as your brain function in general. The mineral is a cofactor for over 300 reactions in your body, meaning it is required for many processes to work efficiently. You need magnesium to facilitate hormone balance, enzyme activity, and, importantly, neurotransmitter function, meaning it helps to regulate your mood as well as overall health.
A benchmark study in 1921 declared magnesium the first medically acknowledged substance to treat depression. That’s a finding that is strongly supported nearly 100 years later. Get a good source of magnesium in wholegrains, leafy greens and tofu.


Benefit your Life

The benefits of healthy foods are endless. Spinach, for example, contains calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, folate, iron and more. We know these help to boost happiness, improve concentration, reduce feelings of anxiety and enhance immunity. So the next time you make a meal, consider including foods containing these powerful nutrients to benefit your day-to-day life.


If you feel you need to make a change to your diet, but don’t know how, we have also written about making positive life changes.