Foods That Improve Your Mood
Did you know there are feel-good foods that are exceptionally beneficial for your mind as well as your body?
So whether you’re a young college student struggling to remain focused through long boring lectures, or a senior citizen concerned about a diminishing ability to concentrate, you could benefit from knowing which foods help you stay attentive for longer.
So how do foods improve our moods? Researchers have investigated the connection between the food we eat and its effect on the brain, and have identified several nutrients that can boost our mood and even combat depression. Some of these mood-enhancing nutrients include calcium, chromium, folate, iron, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and zinc.
Foods that are good for your moods also usually contain tryptophan, which is an amino acid that controls the all-important serotonin levels in the brain. When tryptophan enters the brain it is converted into serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that curbs food cravings and boosts your moods. Some foods that contain tryptophan are soy products, fowl, pineapples, eggs, cheese milk and avocados. Some breads, potatoes and cereals also contain tryptophan.
Sweet chocolate bars and drinks with caffeine may give you a temporary boost, but they will cause your body and your brain to become imbalanced. Thiamine (Vitamin B1), promotes healthy brain cells and can also rebalance the brains chemistry.
Folate, found in foods such as oranges, lemons and bananas help your brain to function healthfully and the mineral zinc promotes concentration as well as keeping your immune system healthy. Zinc can be found in red meat, peanuts and oysters. Omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish (especially salmon) is a great ‘brain food.’
It’s best not to eat saturated fats contained in many fried foods and fatty meats such as bacon. They alter the neurotransmitters in your brain and can clog your arteries. Too many saturated fats, combined with an unhealthy diet and lifestyle can also cause obesity and an early death because of stroke or diabetes.
A diet rich in the following foods can be healthy for your brain as well as your body:-
- Soybeans – Soy provides fiber, fats, proteins and iron. Maintaining iron in the body is vital, since the fatigue, apathy, and mood changes associated with an iron deficiency can be so severe it may lead to depression.
- Nuts – Most nuts contain monounsaturated fats that keep your arteries clear and your mind infused with serotonin. Almonds, cashews and peanuts nuts are rich in magnesium which is a mineral that produces over 300 biochemical reactions in the human body during its role of maintaining and protecting the body’s health. A magnesium deficiency can cause irritability, fatigue, mental confusion, and a predisposition to stress.
- Tomatoes – Lycopene and folate which are both good for the arteries can be found in tomatoes. Researchers recently discovered that people who included tomatoes in their diet regularly were less likely to suffer from depression. Tomatoes are known for their outstanding antioxidant content, and scientists have recently discovered an important connection between lycopene, its antioxidant properties, and bone health. As we all know, antioxidants are important for good health.
- Spinach – This is a mood-boosting power house due to the fact it contains vitamin B9 (folate) and required to regulate the serotonin levels that have a huge impact on your moods. Folate has also been found to heighten serotonin function in the brain because of its ability to slow down the destruction of tryptophan. Spinach is also another great source of magnesium, which helps you get a good night’s sleep – something vital to keeping your spirits high.
- Natural Oils – Olive, flaxseed, fish, avocado and nut oils all contain monounsaturated fats. Omega-3 is a monounsaturated fat that plays an important role in the health of your brain, but because the body does not produce Omega-3s itself it must be obtained from food. A lack of this essential fatty acid can cause depression, mood swings, and a decline in memory function.
- Dark Chocolate – I’ve saved the best one until last! Real dark chocolate increases artery cleansing flavonoids and also releases dopamine, which provides a sense of well-being. Even small amounts of dark chocolate can have an effect on the levels of brain endorphins, which are the feel-good chemicals that our bodies produce. As if that were not enough reason to eat it, dark chocolate also helps care for your heart by preventing arteries from clogging.
Obviously you can’t eat all your troubles away, but if you try to maintain a diet including the foods groups from above you will be giving yourself the best possible chance of keeping your mind, as well as your body, in a state of good health.
If you take the time and effort to give your brain the vital nutrients it needs, it will help you face up to the challenges and stresses of modern life. And remember that eating a mind-boosting diet will also benefit your body. It’s a true win-win situation.
Copyright © Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd 2016. Written by Geoff Lyth