Human beings have always known about the deep inextricable link between what they eat and how they feel – not only physically but emotionally too. Thus if you are think you have got the blues, nibbling on these ten foods may help you to be back to your upbeat self.
Or any other fruit for that matter like pears, strawberries, oranges and pomegranates. This is because such fruits are rich in soluble fiber and thus have the ability to slow down the absorption of sugar in your blood. Follow a high-calorie or high-fat meal with a fruit so that rise in glucose levels in your body due to the meal is balanced out. This will help you avoid an energy slump that is usually after a heavy meal besides potentially lessening blood sugar and consequent mood swings.
Nuts and seeds
Pumpkin seeds, walnuts or almonds are great mood-lifters too. This is because nuts and seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which researchers believe have a positive impact on mental health. In fact omega-3 fatty acids are present in the brain at higher levels than any other part of the body, and although far more research is required in order to understand the particular nature of impact that omega-3 fats have on the brain, several review papers recommend use of the nutrient in psychiatry. Other foods which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids are oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines.
A February 2006 web edition of The Independent1 mentions a study conducted out by the British Cheese Board on the effects of eating different cheeses before bedtime. The study found that, far from causing nightmares, cheese gave 72 per cent of the 200 volunteers a very good night's sleep. Researchers associated with the study believe that this could be because cheese contains a substance known as tryptophan which has mood enhancing properties. Other than this, cheese is also a rich source of calcium, a mineral which is essential for the manufacture melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep.
Green leafy vegetables like spinach and mustard greens are a rich source of folic acid and folate. Studies have shown that low blood levels of folic acid are sometimes related to depression, although no one is exactly sure why. Some scientists believe that these chemicals are used by the body to create serotonin, one of the key neurotransmitters that help normalize mood. Thus stock up your diet on green vegetables and you may find yourself more than ready to banish the blues.
These luscious yellow fruits are one of Nature’s best pick-me-ups when you are feeling low. This is because bananas are loaded with a host of biochemical ingredients which have a positive effect on moods – tryptophan which is necessary for the body to make the happiness hormone serotonin; potassium, levels of which can be depleted by stress and hence leave you feeling miserable and finally, the vitamin B6 that helps to regulate blood sugar and thereby stabilize mood.
Everyone knows that protein is essential to repair and regenerate tissues and muscles. And yet not many are aware of their influence on the mood as well. This is mainly because the addition of protein to a meal helps slow the absorption of carbohydrate in the blood. This in turn goes a long way in leaving you feeling upbeat and productive for hours after eating. However instead of settling for red meats and fatty bacon, choose low-fat protein like poultry, seafood and fish, veal, tofu, eggs and low-fat yogurt. They are not only easier to digest but will help you maintain the right body weight, an important factor in looking as well as feeling good.
Besides being rich in omega-3 fats, oily fish like salmon and mackerel are also high in Vitamin D. In recent years, an increasing number of studies have focused on the impact of this vitamin on moods among humans; researchers now believe that vitamin D is essential for the production of serotonin, one of the neurotransmitters responsible for regulating moods. In particular, vitamin D seems to help the type of depression called “seasonal affective disorder (SAD),” or the winter blues. One of the ways human beings can make Vitamin D is by exposure to sunlight which is why lack of adequate sunlight during the cold season leads to a deficiency of the vitamin and an associated depressive mood. Along with fatty fish, vitamin D is also found in low-fat milk, fortified soy milk and egg yolks. Because vitamin D-rich foods are so limited, doctors often recommend Vitamin D supplements for people who are particularly prone to SAD or other mood disorders.
However in order to experience optimum mental health, you cannot rely entirely on a diet of veggies and proteins. This is because carbohydrates are a necessary nutrient for the secretion of serotonin and thus are natural mood-boosters. However in order to get the best of this food group, stick to whole-grains, pasta or brown bread, brown rice which have undergone minimum of processing and thus have their nutrients intact.
Foods like chicken liver contain iron which is crucial for ensuring oxygen-rich blood supply to the brain. Without enough dietary iron, your brain would be starved of oxygen and thus you will experience fatigue and exhaustion. So stock up your diet with iron-rich foods like shrimp, lean beef, sardines, anchovies while vegetarians can opt for leafy vegetable, apricots, lentils, oat and wheat bran and beans. Iron is even more important for women and girls in their teens since it helps prevent anemia.
Eating chocolate has a popular mood elevator down the ages in many parts of the world. That's because chocolate contains phenylethylamine — a mood-regulating chemical found naturally in the brain. Besides this, some experts believe it also helps the body to produce endorphins which result in bringing about a temporary high. Apart from this, chocolate is believed to offer other health benefits too since it contains flavonoids which are a powerful type of antioxidants. However remember to consume dark chocolate since it has a higher percentage of cocoa solids than other varieties. And like all good things, here too, the key to happiness lies in moderation.