Your One-Week Get-Happy Meal Plan

Feel your best by em­pha­siz­ing foods that boost your mood and make you feel hap­pier, health­ier and more en­er­gized from head to toe.

Clean Eating - - RECIPES - BY ERIN MACDON­ALD, RDN AND TIF­FANI BACHUS, RDN, PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY BEATA LUBAS

You may have heard the ex­pres­sion, “Good health starts in the gut,” mean­ing, the state of your gut has widerang­ing con­se­quences for your over­all heath. This say­ing holds es­pe­cially true when it comes to men­tal health, in­clud­ing anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion.

The lining of your di­ges­tive sys­tem is cov­ered in nerve cells that send mes­sages to the brain. Nerve cells, called neu­rons, com­mu­ni­cate with each other via chem­i­cal sub­stances called neu­ro­trans­mit­ters (NTs) to con­trol your move­ment, thoughts and feel­ings. When your NTs are out of bal­ance, it can con­trib­ute to de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety, brain fog, fa­tigue and in­som­nia.

What’s more, the di­ges­tive sys­tem is home to both good and bad bac­te­ria, which not only in­crease or re­duce in­flam­ma­tion but are also re­spon­si­ble for con­trol­ling mood and anx­i­ety. Re­searchers are find­ing that ir­ri­ta­tions in the gas­troin­testi­nal sys­tem send mes­sages to the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem that trig­ger mood changes.

What you eat deeply af­fects your gut bac­te­ria, NTs, hor­mone pro­duc­tion, en­ergy level and mood. This meal plan fea­tures the ul­ti­mate bal­ance of col­or­ful fruits and veg­eta­bles, clean pro­tein and healthy fats to help your brain man­u­fac­ture the right bal­ance of NTs to help reg­u­late your mood.

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