What Foods Can Boost Your Mood?
There’s little doubt that food can affect your moods, and if your positive moods are on the decline, your work and your relationships will suffer. The culprit, in this case, is often fluctuating blood sugar and an imbalance in your nutritional diet.
What specific diets help improve our physical and mental health?
How can we alter our approach to nutrition to improve our moods?
Here are some answers.
How Our Diet Can Impact Our Physical and Mental Health
Your body needs fuel to keep going daily, and this fuel needs to be in the form of a well-balanced diet that can keep you energetic throughout the day. When you maintain a diet that’s high in vegetables, low in refined sugar, and low in saturated fat, you help keep Type 2 diabetes at bay. A Mediterranean diet – vegetables, fruits, nuts, fatty fish – also helps to keep your heart healthy, your cholesterol low, and your blood pressure low. A study of 26,000 women who followed the Mediterranean diet over 12 years had a 25% less risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
There are many ways that nutrients (or a lack of the right ones) can affect your body. When you engage in physical activities, for example, you’ll lose sodium when you sweat. If you don’t replace that sodium, you can suffer from muscle cramping.
Physical benefits aren’t all that a healthy and balanced diet provide. You’ll also see a host of mental benefits. When you eat well, you won’t get sugar crashes, which can help keep your moods level. You’ll also maintain your energy levels throughout the day. And, what may be surprising for some is that by eating healthily, you’ll be able to boost your concentration.
The Connection Between Food and Your Mood
Food has great restorative powers. Besides helping your body fight diseases or even aging, it can also do wonders for your mood. And it’s not only what you eat, but when you eat.
If you time your meals and eat on a schedule, you’ll prevent your body’s blood sugar from fluctuating.
If you avoid caffeine in the evening, you’ll sleep better.
Eating a large meal in the middle of the day can deplete your energy for a few hours afterwards.
The neurotransmitters in our body are made from enzymes and amino acids, and these neurotransmitters help with our brain. They also regulate our moods. To build neurotransmitters and keep their levels healthy, we need to feed our bodies correctly. That’s where specific foods come in.
Some Foods That Can Boost Your Mood
These foods can make great mood enhancers:
1. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate helps boost the endorphins in our body, and endorphins are a feel-good chemical. Dark chocolate is also a good source of tryptophan, an amino acid that our body uses to make protein. When we ingest tryptophan, the body uses some of it to make serotonin, which is a natural mood stabilizer.
The body doesn’t naturally make tryptophan, so we must get it from outside food sources, and dark chocolate is a great way of ingesting it.
Dark chocolate also releases theobromine into our bodies, which has chemical similarities to cannabinoids.
In order to make serotonin, the body needs a good dose of vitamin B6 daily, and bananas are rich in vitamin B6. Bananas are low in fat and are low in calories and an easy snack to spread out throughout the day. Eat them before a morning run or have one in a smoothie. One banana provides about 20% of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin B6.
Don’t miss your morning cup of coffee. In fact, have at least two cups a day, if you can. Coffee has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties that can improve your mood. What’s more, caffeine prevents receptors in your brain from binding with adenosine. Adenosine is said to cause sour moods and fatigue.
A study shows that 75 mg of coffee, which is equivalent to one cup of coffee a day, can help help improve your mood for four hours. It’s a pick-me-up in a cup.
4. Fatty Fish
If you have low blood levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, you may suffer from bouts of moodiness. One of the best ways to combat this is to add fatty fish to your weekly diet. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, contains two types of Omega-3 fatty acids: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Besides helping your heart, an addition of fatty fish to your diet can help with your moods.
What’s more, fish oil helps the brain, too, especially when it pertains to memory loss.
A study showed that when animals had a deficiency of Omega-3-fatty acids, the levels of DHA in their brain decreased and they showed deficits in memory and learning.
Oats are high in fiber, which is great when you want to feel full for longer periods of time. This high fiber content is also a good mood stabilizer because you won’t experience dips in your blood sugar.
Like dark chocolate, oats contain tryptophan, which the body uses to make serotonin, that feel-good chemical. One cup of oats contains a whopping 147 milligrams of tryptophan.
When adding oats to your diet, make sure to choose rolled oats or steel-cut oats. Quick oats are processed and have added sugar.
6. Nuts and Seeds
Snacking on nuts or seeds is another easy way to help elevate your moods. Nuts and seeds contain tryptophan, choline, tyrosine, and essential fats.
Almonds have the nutrients to help the body produce dopamine and norepinephrine, both feel-good neurotransmitters. Cashews contain tryptophan, magnesium, and vitamin B6 (which is needed to make serotonin).
Another nut that contains tryptophan is peanuts.
Flax seeds contain Omega-3 fatty acids, and like fish, they help calm us down.
Remember that when you’re out shopping for nuts, make sure to pick raw, unflavored, and unsalted nuts.
The beauty of eating right is that there are numerous benefits. Eating leafy vegetables, fruit, nuts, fatty fish, and lean protein helps stabilize your body as well as your mind. You’ll get the nourishment your body needs to power through the day, and you’ll get the energy to stay alert. What’s more, you can zero in on specific foods to build your serotonin levels and calm your nerves. Whether you’re adding fermented foods, nuts, fatty fish, or dark chocolate to your daily diet, you’ll be changing your body for the better. And, in the end, you’ll be a happier, healthier you.