Good food to boost your mood
Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live. Jim Rohn
Yesterday – Monday, 6 May 2013 – was international no Diet Day, an annual celebration of body acceptance and body shape diversity. It is dedicated to promoting a healthy lifestyle and raising awareness of the dangers and ineffectiveness of dieting.
British feminist Mary Evans Young organised the first No Diet Day in 1992, motivated by her own experiences after being bullied as an overweight child. This week to celebrate, Happiness Weekly looks at good food that will boost your mood – these options will brighten your day!
Two omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA, are found in oily fish such as mackerel, barramundi, trout, salmon and sardines. Eat these and any signs of depression will be reduced as these types of fish contain Omega-3s that promote functioning of the neurotransmitters that regulate mood. Omega 3 fats keep your brain healthy and improve mood by keeping brain cells flexible so the messaging chemicals (neurotransmitters) can work effectively.
The smallest water loss in our bodies can impair our physical and mental wellbeing. It’s extremely important that we’re hydrated to be able to concentrate properly.
A small square of dark chocolate can cause the brain to release endorphins and boost serotonin levels. Theobromine and phenylethyamine are two mood-boosting compounds found in chocolate. An ounce of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate daily for two weeks will reduce stress and anxiety. It may also improve the quality of your sex life!
Walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid – a form of omega-3 fat also found in flaxseed and chia seed. Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of mineral selenium. Eating just three Brazil nuts a day can provide your recommended daily amount.
Greek yoghurt is the yoghurt of choice because it contains twice as much protein as traditional yoghurt, which means it will raise your mood-boosting neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. Yoghurt also contains Vitamin D (best received by sunlight on the skin – but this is the next best way to take it) which reduces health conditions such as depression, osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer. It also contains Calcium which reduces stress and anxiety.
Bananas are one of the best super foods you can eat – they help boost your mood and aid with good sleep. They contain vitamins A, B6 and C, fibre, potassium, phosphorous, iron, carbohydrates and tryptophan. The carbohydrates aid in the absorption of tryptophan in the brain and the vitamin B6 helps to convert it into serotonin. Subsequently bananas have been used in treatments for insomnia, depression and anxiety. Plus the potassium they contain makes them a great snack if you’re feeling stressed or tired and they also aid in the transmission of nerve impulses, heart rhythm and muscle function!
Lentils are a complex carbohydrate and they enhance the brain’s production of serotonin resulting in a calmer, happier state of mind. They are high in iron which can give you energy and may improve your mood. While lentils are highly recommended for everyone, they are particularly good for those with diabetes (our fastest growing incurable disease epidemic), because they stabilise your blood sugar level and stabilise mood. They are high in folate (deficiencies in folate can cause depression and mania).
Oats boost your mood because they have a low glycaemic index (GI) meaning it releases energy into our bloodstream slowly. This maintains blood sugar levels and stabilises the mood. Selenium, found in oats, can also assist mood by regulating the thyroid gland function.
People who eat a low-carb diet are more likely to experience depression because they reduce the production of serotonin to your brain. However, those who stick to a low-fat diet and eat nutrient-rich carbohydrates such as quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat pasta are happier.
Milk, fish and some fortified foods are reliable sources of vitamin D – the sun vitamin.
Poultry (chicken or turkey)
Chicken or turkey breast contain tryptophan and therefore assist in producing serotonin, which helps to regulate mood and melatonin which helps to regulate sleep. Poultry also contains tyrosine, an amino acid used to make adrenaline and reduces symptoms of depression.
Extra virgin olive oil
People that follow a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in olive oil, nuts, whole grains, fish, legumes and vegetable are 30% less likely to suffer from depression.
Green leafy vegetables
Generally anything leafy green is a good source of vitamin B folate. Women with the high blood folate levels are less likely to suffer depressive symptoms. Eating green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli will help you get your vitamin B intake and avoid depression and/or depressive symptoms. B vitamins to look out for include folate, vitamin B3, B6 and B12.
Oysters are high in many essential nutrients such as zinc – essential for energy production and brain health meaning it assists with mood. They also contain a protein rich in tyrosine which your brain uses to produce chemicals to enhance your mental function and elevate mood.
Now that we are going into winter in Australia, many people are feeling the winter blues (also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder) approaching and there are some foods that may also assist your mood that aren’t included in the above list. These foods are:
Oranges contain vitamin C and will help boost your mood, give instant energy, pump oxygen through your body and brain, and recharge your system. They’re a great snack or you can have it first thing in the morning to help you get started each day.
Eat plenty of salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines or look for DHA-fortified foods such as Horizon, Silk Milks, Gold Circle farm eggs and Mission Life Balance tortillas. Omega-3 (found in all these foods) helps brain cells, mood and memory – and you will feel full for hours! These foods will also improve your outlook today while cutting down your risk of dementia down the track.
Of course soup in winter helps us all to feel good because it’s warm and comforting, but a good bowl of chicken soup with veggies has the water-fibre-protein that fills you up without you gaining weight. For an extra helping of happiness, your soup should be loaded with dark green and orange veggies (collards, carrots and squash cubes) which are full of vitamins to improve mood, brainpower and immunity.
Burgers and/or meat sauce made with lean beef (or black bean for vegetarians) are a great source of iron. Iron deficiencies affect thinking and sleeping which impact your mood. Try to drink your tea and coffee between meals because they can block iron absorption.
Skip the chocolate during your 3 o’clock slump and grab an English muffin slathered with jam to raise your serotonin, a bowl of popcorn or sorbet with berries. It will help you relax and hit the spot with your cravings!
Blueberries are a superfuit because of their antioxidents and their ability to promote positive energy. Frozen blueberries are a great alternative to ice cream!
Dried tart cherries before bed will help improve your sleep quality because of their melatonin. They also contain enough serotonin to help you sleep properly and provide you with a great mood the next morning. Bonus!
What food puts you in a good mood?
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