The foods you eat are the building blocks for neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that affect many different aspects of our lives, including our mood. Thus, what you eat can have a big impact on how you feel! Here are some good mood foods to try:
1. Protein-rich foods lead to increased production of the neurotransmitter tyrosine, which can help improve concentration. Protein also helps food digest more slowly, which contributes to sustained energy and stabilized blood sugar levels. I recommend including a protein-rich food at every meal! Great sources of protein include: fish, chicken, eggs, whey protein powder, organic milk, and Greek yogurt.
2. Smart carbohydrate-rich foods produce the neurotransmitter serotonin, which can help relieve stress and anxiety. A diet rich in whole-grains, legumes, fruit and vegetables, therefore, can help keep us relaxed. A word of caution: highly processed carbohydrates found in white bread and sugary foods may relieve stress temporarily, but they are followed by a rapid crash in blood sugar that will undo those feelings of relaxation. So try to stick to the whole-grains for sustained calm vibes!
3. Omega-3 fatty acid rich foods are vital to building healthy brain cells. Current research indicates that, in some instances, omega 3 fatty acids may be more effective in treating depression than medication! According to one study mentioned in Psychology Today, after three months of receiving omega-3s, over two thirds of patients suffering from depression reported a “50% reduction in their symptoms—particularly feelings of sadness and pessimism, inability to work, sleeplessness and low libido.” Great sources of omega 3s include salmon, walnuts, and flaxseed.
4. Leafy green vegetables are rich in folic acid, a vitamin that is frequently found to be inadequate in the diets of people who are depressed. Look for ways to incorporate more spinach, kale and salads into your diet. Just one serving per day of foods rich in folic acid can provide enough of the vitamin to help prevent depression.
5. Meal timing and portion sizes are also important. You should not go more than 4 hours without eating in order to maintain sustained energy levels throughout the day and keep a positive mood. Ever felt sleepy after eating a large meal? Eating a large meal causes increased blood flow to the gut to help digest the food, meaning blood is diverted away from the brain. This leads to that groggy, drowsy feeling. So, just as I’m always preaching. Stop eating when you are satisfied- before you feel stuffed or sick!