It’s always tempting to turn to food on days when you’re feeling down. However, sugary, high calorie treats can bring about negative consequences to your health.
Recent research has shown the correlation between nutrition and mental health—keeping in mind that mood is influenced by many factors, such as, stress, environment, genetics, poor sleep, and even nutritional deficiencies.
That being said, can food really be healthy and improve your mood?
These are healthy foods that can boost your mood and also improve your overall health.
Coffee is the world’s most popular drink that also helps keep everyone a bit happier too. Caffeine prevents a naturally occurring compound called adenosine (promotes tiredness) from attaching to the brain receptors, increasing alertness and attention.
Bananas are high in vitamin B6 which give your body a boost of dopamine and serotonin. When paired with fibre, sugars from the banana is released slowly into your bloodstream, allowing for stable blood sugar levels and better mood control.
Eating berries is linked to lower rates of depression. Packed with a wide range of antioxidants and phenolic compounds to combat oxidative stress (which is an imbalance of harmful compounds in your body). They’re also rich with anthocyanins, a pigment that has shown to reduce depression symptoms by 39%.
Fatty fish like salmon and tuna are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that are linked to low levels of depression and play a part in brain development. Since our bodies can’t produce Omega-3 on its own, we need to find ways to get it into our diet regularly.
Beans and Lentils
While being high in fibre and plant-based protein, beans and lentils are also packed with feel-good nutrients. An excellent source of B vitamins which help improve mood by increasing levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), all of which are important for regulating mood. They’re a good source of zinc, magnesium, selenium, and non-heme iron, which may likewise elevate your spirits
Kimchi, yogurt, kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut are fermented foods that may improve gut health. The fermentation process allows live bacteria (good ones of course) to thrive in foods and create probiotics—microorganisms that support the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut that may increase serotonin levels. Serotonin helps to improve mood, appetite, and reduce stress.
Oats are an excellent form of fibre, helping with slow digestion of carbs that allow for a gradual release of sugar into the bloodstream to keep your energy levels stable. It’s also a great source of iron.
Chocolate contains many mood-boosting compounds such as caffeine, theobromine, and N-acylethanolamine. It’s high in health-promoting flavonoids that help to increase blood blow to the brain, reduce inflammation, and boost brain health.
Nuts and Seeds
Healthy fat, fibre and an excellent source of plant-based proteins, nuts and seeds also provide typtophan—an amino acid responsible for producing mood-boosting serontonin! They also provide much needed nutrients for health brains.