When you’re feeling down, it can be tempting to turn towards food for spirit upliftment. Our mood and food share an extremely intimate correlation between them.
Although many people believe that serotonin, the hormone that helps to stabilize one’s mood, sleep, and emotions, is produced in the brain, “but around 90 percent of it is produced in the gut and then transferred to our brain through neurotransmitters, resulting in mood stabilization.”
As a result, increasing our consumption of foods that promote serotonin production will significantly improve our mood. Eating enough of the right foods that improve your mood while avoiding the ones that make you feel down is the secret to balancing mood management with healthy nutrition.
Here are some foods to incorporate into your diet that will undoubtedly improve your mood;
Chocolate is rich in many mood-boosting compounds. Its sugar may improve mood since it’s a quick source of fuel for your brain. Dark chocolate stimulates the production of endorphins, the chemicals in our brain that create feelings of happiness and pleasure. Dark chocolate promotes mood control by increasing blood flow to the brain, reducing inflammation, and improving brain health.
“Furthermore, it may release a cascade of feel-good compounds, such as caffeine, theobromine, and N-acylethanolamine — a substance chemically similar to cannabinoids that has been linked to improved mood,” as per the reports. Finally, chocolate has a high hedonic rating, meaning that its pleasurable taste, texture, and smell may also promote good mood.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a category of essential fats that your body cannot produce on its own and must be obtained through your diet. “Fatty fish like salmon and albacore tuna are rich in two types of omega-3s — docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) — that are linked to lower levels of depression,” the health expert said.
Although the evidence is mixed, one study of clinical trials found that eating omega-3s in the form of fish oil reduced depression scores. Although there’s no standard dose, most experts agree that most adults should get at least 250–500 mg of combined EPA and DHA per day.
Coffee is the most popular beverage, and it can also make the world a happier place. Caffeine in coffee prevents a naturally occurring compound called adenosine from binding to brain receptors that cause fatigue, resulting in increased alertness and attention. It also boosts the production of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine.
Coffee, both caffeinated and decaffeinated, significantly improved mood as compared to a placebo beverage in a study of 72 participants, indicating that coffee contains other compounds that affect mood. Researchers attributed this boost in attitude to various phenolic compounds, such as chlorogenic acid. Still, more research is needed.
Fruit consumption has been related to lower rates of depression. Antioxidant-rich foods help to reduce inflammation linked to depression and other mood disorders. “Berries carry a wide range of antioxidants and phenolic compounds that play a vital role in combating oxidative stress — an imbalance of harmful compounds in your body. Berries are rich in disease-fighting anthocyanins, which lower the risk of depression,” according to the health expert.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are high in plant-based proteins, healthy fats, and fiber. They are consist of tryptophan, an amino acid responsible for producing mood-boosting serotonin. Pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds, as well as almonds, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts, are great sources.
Moreover, nuts and seeds are a large component of both the MIND and Mediterranean diets, which may support a healthy brain. Each of these diets promotes fresh, whole foods and limits your intake of processed items.
Fermented foods, which include kimchi, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut, may improve gut health and mood. Fermentation enables live bacteria to flourish in foods, allowing them to turn sugars into alcohol and acids.
During this process, probiotics are created. These live microorganisms support the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut and may increase serotonin levels. But not all fermented foods are significant sources of probiotics, such as in the case of beer, some loaves of bread, and wine, due to cooking and filtering.
When you’re feeling down, you might crave calorie-dense, high-sugar foods like ice cream or cookies to cheer you up. While this may have a sugar rush, it is unlikely to benefit you in the long run, and it may even have negative consequences.
Instead, focus on eating whole foods that have been shown to improve your mood as well as your overall health.