Did you know that the food you eat can greatly impact your mood - both for the good and the bad? Research suggests that foods containing added sugar, trans unsaturated fat, dairy, or that are highly processed may be linked to greater levels of sadness and even depression. Additionally, foods that are difficult to digest can leave you feeling grouchy, tired, or moody.
This may be due to what scientists call the gut-brain axis. Your current mood is your body’s way of telling you something is up because your gut is essentially your second brain. Plus, your gut is one of the largest producers of neurotransmitters, including:
- Dopamine (50% is created in your gut)
Also known as your “happy” or “feel-good” hormone which the brain releases we eat the food we crave or while we have sex. It contributes to our feelings of pleasure and satisfaction.
- Serotonin (90% is created in your gut)
Also known as our mood stabilizing hormone, it regulates our anxiety, happiness and mood. This chemical is responsible for stimulating the parts of the brain helping us sleep, eat, and digest.
- Short-chain Fatty Acids
Produced when fiber is fermented in the colon and acts as a source of energy for the cells lining the colon.
1. Dark Chocolate
A study by Nestlé Research Center in Switzerland found that eating 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate every day for two weeks reduced the levels of cortisol and other stress hormones in people who were highly stressed. Experts believe it's due to the antioxidants found in dark chocolate. So let yourself indulge with a bit of delicious dark chocolate every once in a while.
Do you ever feel sleepy after a big Thanksgiving meal of turkey? It may be because of Tryptophan - an essential amino acid that must be obtained by dietary sources. Michigan Medicine explains, "Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, an important neurotransmitter that the brain produces that plays a role in sleep, appetite, and impulse control. Increased levels of serotonin can actually help elevate mood, but serotonin production is limited by the availability of tryptophan."
Salmon is rich with Omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation in your body. Omega-3s are crucial for proper brain and nervous system development and function. They help in lowering feelings of anxiety and depression.
4. Brazil Nuts
According to Healthline, "Brazil nuts are tree nuts native to the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru. These nuts are energy dense, highly nutritious, and one of the most concentrated dietary sources of the mineral selenium. Selenium is a trace element that is vital for the proper functioning of your body. It is essential for your thyroid and influences your immune system and cell growth."
Spinach and other leafy greens contain the B vitamin folate. The connection isn't fully understood, but low folate levels have been consistently associated with depression in research. A folate deficiency mat impart your ability to metabolize serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline so make sure to add spinach to your next salad.
These are wonder berries! Blueberries can boost your mood because they're packed with an antioxidant called flavonoids - which are known to regulate your mood, improve memory, and keep your brain sharp. One recent animal study suggests the anti-inflammatory chemicals in blueberries may be helpful in treating PTSD and other serious mental health problems.
Yogurts that contain probiotics help to keep your gut health in check and help ease depression and anxiety. Probiotics are comprised of good bacteria that work to keep your body healthy.
8. Chia Seeds
These tiny seeds pack a highly nutritious punch. They contain quercetin, an antioxidant that can reduce your risk of developing several health issues. The seeds act as a prebiotic that feed your good gut bacteria. Chia seeds are packed with fiber and calcium, iron, magnesium, and several important vitamins.
Whole grains, like quinoa, have sources of B vitamins which are crucial for your brain's health and function. Experts explain that "thiamin (vitamin B1) is involved in turning glucose into energy, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is needed to produce the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (involved in learning and memory), vitamin B6 helps to convert the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin, and vitamin B12 is involved in the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, among others, all of which help to regulate mood."
Not only do avocados contain healthy, nutritious fat but they also have fiber, Vitamin E, C and B6 and B5 which helps synthesize neurotransmitters and supports the adrenal glands. "A neurotransmitter is a chemical messenger that carries, boosts, and balances signals between neurons (also known as nerve cells) and target cells throughout the body. These target cells may be in glands, muscles, or other neurons."
Next time your feeling extra moody, take a look at your diet. Do you best to cut out highly processed foods or items that have added sugar. Opt for more of these 10 foods listed above. To feel even better, and to ensure you're absorbing all the nutrients from your food, take Confidence digestive enzymes. Get your next pack here.