Healthy foods are essential to our growth and daily functioning. The correct quantity, minerals and vitamins combination must be consumed to harness the powerful effect of food on the body that makes us grow and lead a healthy lifestyle.
Beyond eating based on wimps and cravings, you must be intentional about eating healthy because it will boost your mood and its other benefits. For example, studies have found that fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids prevent depression.
There are indications that nutrition can affect mental health, at least for a given period. However, your mood is also affected by stress, environment, poor sleep quality, genetics and other physical factors. While food plays its role in a person’s mental health, it improves the health of the brain or some types of mood disorders.
Below are some foods that may boost your mood, according to research.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are diets that are very high in protein, fibre and healthy fats. They also include tryptophan and amino acid necessary for the synthesis of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that improves mood.
Magnesium is abundant in pumpkin, sesame, sunflower seeds, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts. Nuts and seeds are a significant component of the Mediterranean diet, which are found to support the brain’s health. However, you must be mindful of the calories, which can add up quickly. You can also snack on walnuts and almonds containing omega-3 fatty acids.
According to research, fish is one of the healthy diets that can boost mood and fight depression. Fatty fish like salmon and albacore tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosatetraenoic acid (EPA), which fights depression. Omega-3s play a considerable role in the development of the brain. It is found to lower depression scores. 250–500 mg of combined EPA and DHA daily is enough to keep you mentally okay.
Beans and Lentils
Beans and Lentils do not only promote satiety; they are mood-boosters as well. These foods are packed with fibre and proteins, termed feel-good nutrients. When taken, they increase neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
In addition, low levels of Vitamin Bs, especially B12 and folate, are related to poor moods, like depression. Beans and Lentils are also rich sources of zinc, magnesium, selenium, and non-heme iron, which can boost your mood.
Coffee has several nutritional benefits, including elevating your spirit. It is believed that “a cup of coffee daily makes the world happier”. Caffeine in coffee prevents adenosine, a naturally occurring compound, from attaching to brain receptors that promote tiredness, thereby increasing alertness and attention.
Furthermore, it increases the release of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. According to research, caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee improved mood significantly more than a placebo beverage, implying that coffee contains other compounds that influence mood.
Fruits and veggies are not only high in nutrients but have also been linked to low rates of depression. Berries have antioxidants which is an anti-inflammatory agent. Inflammation has been linked to depression and some mood disorders. The antioxidant in berries fights oxidative stress, which indicates harmful compounds in the body. Fresh or frozen berries work equally. However, ensure frozen berries are at their peak of ripeness so that they can retain antioxidants.
Kimchi, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut are all classed as fermented food, and they are found to improve the health of the gut and brain as well. Fermented foods are packed with bacteria thriving because they can convert sugar into alcohol and acid.
And during the process of conversion, probiotics are formed. Probiotics are live microorganisms that support the growth of healthy bacteria in the guts. However, not all fermented foods are rich sources of probiotics. For example, due to cooking and filtering, beer, some bread, and wine are not rich sources of probiotics, so they cannot lift your mood.
Chocolate has compounds that are found to be mood-boosters. Sugar improves mood as it is a source of fuel for the brain. In addition, feel-good compounds such as caffeine, theobromine, and N-acylethanolamine are released when sugar is taken.
Nonetheless, there are other claims that chocolate does not contain enough of these compounds to warrant a positive mood swing. In addition, chocolate contains flavonoids, which promote blood flow to the brain. It also has a high hedonic rating which improves the taste, texture and good smell.
Banana is among the healthy foods not because of the bright, attractive yellow or green colour but due to the high vitamin B6, which synthesizes dopamine and serotonin, so bananas can quickly turn a frown into a cheerful mood.
Furthermore, the sugar and fiber content in bananas stabilizes the sugar level in the body because sugar is released slowly into the bloodstream. In addition, a banana is a good source of prebiotics which improves the gut functionality of the body and may lower rates of mood disorder.
The oat falls under the category of whole grain and rich fiber. Fiber is essential in your diet because it helps slow down carbs’ digestion and gradually releases sugar into the bloodstream to keep energy levels stable. Stable blood sugar keeps the mood under control and manages mood swings. Oat is a good food choice not only because of its fiber content but also because of its excellent iron content. The iron supply corrects iron deficiency which has been reported to be responsible for sluggishness and mood disorders.
The saying “you are what you eat” does not only suffice for the weight or physical outlook.
The food we eat determines our health as well as our mental state. If you want to be happy and healthy, eat healthy foods.