Did You Know You Can Boost Your Mood Via Your Diet?
Written by Dr. Sean Medlin and Dr. Krystal Czegus / Updated on April 18, 2018 / 0 comments
What you eat or don’t eat can have a significant impact on your mood. While excess sugar has been linked to depression, certain foods are linked to positive emotions. Namely:
Vegetables, Especially Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens, like spinach, are rich in folate, which helps your body produce mood-regulating neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine. One 2012 study found that people who consumed high levels of folate had a lower risk of depression than those who consumed the least.
In addition, research from the University of Otago found eating fruits and vegetables of any sort (except fruit juice and dried fruit) helped young adults calm their nerves. Department of Psychology researcher Dr. Tamlin Conner said that “on days when people [eat] more fruits and vegetables, they reported feeling calmer, happier, and more energetic than they normally did.”
Mushrooms are rich in the antioxidant selenium, low levels of which have been linked to anxiety. Mushrooms are also one of the better food sources of vitamin D, which supports healthy mood (however, your best option to optimize your vitamin D levels is regular sun exposure; if that’s not possible, a vitamin D3 supplement may be necessary).
Curcumin, the pigment that gives the spice turmeric its yellow-orange color, is thought to be the primary component responsible for many of its medicinal effects. Among them, curcumin has neuroprotective properties and may enhance mood and possibly help with depression.
Like exercise, chocolate may trigger your brain to produce the “bliss compound” anandamide. It also contains other chemicals that prolong the “feel-good” aspects of anandamide. Chocolate has even been referred to as “the new anti-anxiety drug.” One study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology also revealed that drinking an antioxidant-rich chocolate drink equal to about 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate daily felt calmer than those who did not.
Organic Black Coffee
Research has shown that coffee triggers a mechanism in your brain that releases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which activates your brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, thereby improving your brain health. Interestingly enough, research also suggests that low BDNF levels may play a significant role in depression and that increasing neurogenesis has an antidepressant effect. One Harvard study even found women who drink four or more cups of coffee a day have a 20 percent lower risk of depression than those who drank little or none.
Green tea contains theanine, an amino acid that crosses the blood-brain barrier and has psychoactive properties. Theanine increases levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), serotonin, dopamine, and alpha wave activity, and may reduce mental and physical stress and produce feelings of relaxation.
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