Did you know that the foods you consume can impact your mood? According to Webster’s dictionary, mood is a “temporary state of mind or feeling.” Many times, we attribute our moods to current circumstances. Maybe your boss didn’t like your proposal at work, or you got into a disagreement with your partner. But has it ever occurred to you that your mood may be influenced by the food you eat?
The nutrients in the food we consume are vital to many bodily functions. Food provides us with energy, but it also provides us with the precursors necessary to produce hormones and neurotransmitters which play a role in our mood. Studies show that our diet plays a role in mood regulation. Diets high in refined sugars, processed foods, and trans fats are associated with impaired brain function and mood disorders while diets rich in nutrients promote better physical and mental health.
Follow these dietary recommendations to boost your mood with food.
Balance Blood Sugar Levels
Eat regular meals with a mix of complex carbohydrates, high quality fats, and lean protein to balance blood sugar levels. Snack on nuts, fruits, and vegetables and avoid sugary foods. Blood sugar imbalances occur due to poor diet and chronic stress, which throw our adrenal glands out of whack. The adrenal hormones regulate blood sugar and help manage stress, modulate blood pressure, and produce sex hormones. When our blood sugar is too low or too high, we end up irritable and anxious.
Fill Up with Fiber
Fiber feeds the bacteria in the gut, increasing short-chain fatty acids, which protect the integrity of the intestinal barrier and reduce inflammation. Our central nervous system and our gut microbiome communicate with one another in a bidirectional network known as the gut-brain axis. The gut-brain axis monitors and integrates gut functions and links them to cognitive and emotional centers in the brain. When our gut bacteria are in a state of dysbiosis, or imbalance, we end up with too little or too much of these neurotransmitters, which can have a negative effect on our mood. Fiber comes from plant foods like beans, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Aim for at least 25 grams of fiber each day. I probably consume close to 50 grams each day from whole foods!
Antioxidants nourish the brain, protecting against oxidative stress caused by free radical damage. Oxidative stress is linked to inflammation, aging, neurodegeneration, and cardiovascular disease. Antioxidants come from plant foods such as beans, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Berries and dark leafy greens are great sources.
Power Up On Protein
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are necessary for the synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters. Get adequate protein through sources like beans, lean meats, soy, whole grains, seafood, and fish, to ensure your body has plenty of these vital nutrients.
Get Plenty of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids travel through the brain membrane and interact with mood-related molecules. They have anti-inflammatory properties that may relieve depression. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish like salmon, cod, trout, and tuna, walnuts, seeds like chia, flax, and hemp. Aim for 1-2 servings of fatty fish each week and try to incorporate nuts and seeds into your daily diet.
Rev Up with Vitamins & Minerals
Vitamins like the B complex and vitamin A, and minerals like magnesium and potassium, are involved in many of the biochemical pathways the body uses to create hormones and neurotransmitters. Eating a diverse diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, beans, lean proteins, and quality dairy products will provide you with a variety of vitamins and minerals.
While food can have a positive impact on your mood, it may not provide all the support you need. If you are experiencing problems with your mental health, please contact a healthcare professional. And, enjoy over 450 FREE recipes for mood boosting foods!
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