Sometimes a case of the blues is simply beyond your control, but one thing that is definitely within your power is eating smartly to improve your mental state when the road gets rough and you’re feeling down in the dumps. So whenever you get the urge to dig into that inviting tub of ice cream, which will only temporarily lift your mood, remember it’s better to eat your way to happiness with foods that reap long-lasting rewards.
Studies have shown what you eat really does play an important role in how you feel. Dietary changes can alter your brain structure, chemistry and physiology, consequently leading to changes in behaviour. And since these foods offer loads of health benefits too, there’s really nothing to lose.
Often regarded as poor man’s shellfish, mussels have high amounts of Vitamin B12, selenium, iodine, protein and zinc. The iodine they contain helps support the thyroid gland, which assists in adjusting mood and weight. Selenium and zinc are also beneficial for the thyroid gland. The Vitamin B12, meanwhile, helps strengthen and insulate one’s brain cells, which keeps it sharp with time. With mussels also being low in calories and fat, it’s time to add them to your shopping basket.
Thanks to the high amounts of omega-3 in salmon, this tasty fish has the power to boost your happiness levels. Several studies using omega-3 as a treatment for a variety of brain-based disorders have been carried out. A 2008 study found fish oil to have equal efficacy as Prozac in the treatment of depression. Eating omega-3 has also proved to alleviate the symptoms of depression in over 60 percent of pregnant women.
The low milk variety kind of chocolate improves the blood flow to the brain and provides an instant improvement in awareness and mood, all helping make people feel energetic and alive. According to the Journal of Psychopharmacology, you only need a few ounces of dark chocolate everyday to benefit from it, however you shouldn’t go overboard.
This member of the nightshade family is loaded with mood enhancers like folate and magnesium, used to treat depression. Tomatoes contain iron, tryptophan, and vitamin B6, which are what the brain needs to produce important mood-regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. As well as having a high concentration of niacin, vitamin K, chromium, vitamin C and potassium, tomatoes help protect against chorionic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. They are also an antioxidant that fight inflammation in the brain and generally protect it.
Strained yogurt contains a great amount of calcium, even more than what you get from milk. This exotic yogurt option can help the brain as it triggers it to encourage the neurotransmitters to release feelings of wellbeing. What’s more, Greek yogurt is packed with more protein than the regular kind and this helps make weight loss easier.
These fleshy green spears, which have been considered a delicacy since ancient times, are a great source of folate and tryptophan. According to research, low levels of folate have been linked to many cases of depression. Tryptophan is important here too as the brain uses it to make serotonin, which is one of the main mood-stabilising neurotransmitters.
Neuroscientists found the brain is loaded with receptors for capsaicin, which is available in chilli peppers. It has been investigated for its ability to regulate inflammation by influencing the expression of DNA. The human brain responds to capsaicin’s heat by releasing endorphins, the natural compounds that are related to morphine and have a calming effect. Capsaicin destroys carcinogens in our food like dimethyl nitrosamine, a preservative in cured meats, and vinyl carbamate, a cancer-causing agent in many pesticides. This super chemical compound has also shown it can protect the brain during liver failure.
It’s common knowledge honey, which is recommended over regular sugar, has great benefits. This sweet food contains kaempferol and quercetin, flavonoids that help prevent depression and keep all body organs, including the brain, healthy. Honey does that by reducing inflammation in the brain. Another honey benefit is that it does not stay in the body as fat like regular sugar can, having less of an impact on blood sugar levels.
Other bonus mood boosters: