Featured illustration: Kate King
The GROW Café in the Manchester Met Business School encourages students to think more consciously about the food they eat, and to consider issues of sustainability and plant-based eating when choosing what to have for their lunch. A collaboration between the University Catering Team and MetMUnch, GROW offers a meat-free, nutritious alternative diet that is more sustainable and low carbon, as well as serving up a space to share ideas and collaborate.
MetMUnch was founded by senior lecturer Haleh Moravej in 2011 as a student-led enterprise and it has gone on to win many awards and become known around the world as pioneers of nutrition, sustainability and wellness. Haleh and the MetMUnch team know their food serves two purposes – to fuel the body and educate the mind.
“Gut bacteria is super important as it makes up around 2.5kg of our gut,” says Haleh. “Our energy for everyday activities actually comes from the gut and acts as the puppetmaster for our brain.”
She adds, “A highly-processed diet will destroy the good gut bacteria as it is accumulated throughout your life and therefore we are heavily dependent on a good diet. Healthy gut bacteria can take up to six years to rebuild.”
Haleh explains a balanced diet is needed to boost your mood and therefore you should avoid anything which gives you a high sugar rush. So we asked Haleh and the MetMUnch team to serve up top five good mood food tips to help boost wellbeing and give you energy. Here they are!
1. Fruits & Vegetables
Containing a range of antioxidants, researchers suggest that you should have 30 different-coloured fruit and vegetables a week. When eating vegetables, you will feel a positive mood improvement as they are providing good bacteria for your gut as well as boosting your immune system.
2. Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are a great way to include probiotics in your diet. Kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables) and Kombucha (fermented black tea) are both great examples of fermented foods which can be included in your diet. Additionally, sauerkraut is a fermented cabbage condiment, loaded with vitamin C and K as well as iron and fibre, rich in probiotics which contain healthy gut bacteria.
3. Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are very important for your mood as your brain is made out of 65% essential fats. They are called ‘essential fats’ as our bodies don’t produce them. Therefore, we need to get them externally. You get essential fats from oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines which are full of Omega 3 and are good for your brain. If you are vegan or vegetarian you have to get Omega 3 from nuts and seeds such as walnuts, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds and chia seeds. Avocados are another fantastic food for mood but are not as sustainable as other fruits or vegetables. However, they are a fantastic source of Vitamin C, E, K, and Vitamin B6: all of these are good for stress management.
Eggs are a good source of amino acids which are the base of protein. They are cheap, affordable, and provide energy directly to the brain. Make sure you know how the eggs have been farmed if you are concerned about the various methods.
5. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate with a 95% high cocoa content is good for the brain and will help with a boost of energy. Some nutritionists even recommend 25g a day.