Top 6 Good Mood Nutrients: Eating Your Way to a Happier You
Like most people, you likely understand the food you eat will affect your physical health, but the relationship between the diet and the mind is one that is often overlooked. While our thoughts, personality, and mood cannot be physically touched, our brain IS a part of our body, and our mental health is just as susceptible to our diet as our physical health is!
While the link between our mind and diet is still an emerging science, researchers have been able to determine the effect certain foods have on our mood by observing the fluctuating levels of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.
Incorporate foods rich in these nutrients to support your mental health!
#1. B Vitamins
- Why: Research has tied vitamin B deficiency to conditions like anxiety and depression. B vitamins are essential in the creation of neurotransmitters and help deplete levels of harmful neurotoxic chemicals in the body.
- Foods Rich in B Vitamins: Eggs, Fish, Pasture-Fed Meats, Whole Grains, Legumes, Nuts
#2. Omega-3 Fatty Acid
- Why: Throughout numerous studies, omega-3 fatty acids have been consistently linked with good mental health. Also known as a "good fat", omega-3 allows us to absorb more vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables. Deficiency in omega-3 on the other hand is associated with disorders like ADD, dyslexia, dementia and depression.
- Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fish - Tuna, Pollock, Salmon, Nuts - Walnuts, Pecans, Hazel Nuts, Seeds - Flax and Hemp, Fruits - Kiwi, Lingonberry, Black Raspberry
#3. Vitamin D
- Why: Vitamin D has been directly linked to serotonin levels in the brain. In fact, it's believed that vitamin D deficiency is responsible for the condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
- Foods Rich in Vitamin D: Fish - Salmon, Mackerel, and Tuna, or get 15 minutes of sunlight a day and your body will create vitamin D naturally.
- Why: It's not only used to make antioxidant enzymes, but supplementation has also been linked to improved mood.
- Foods Rich in Selenium: Brazil Nuts, Tuna, Beef, Cod, and Turkey
- Why: Magnesium is essential to normal muscle, immune and nervous system function. Magnesium is commonly recommended in cases of anxiety. It helps alleviate mood swings and nervous tension.
- Foods Rich in Magnesium: Halibut, Almonds, Cashews, Soybeans, Spinach, Oatmeal, Potato
- Why: Zinc is used in the body a variety of ways. It's necessary for over 100 different enzymes, important for immunity, wound healing, DNA synthesis, normal growth, and required for proper sense of taste and smell. Too little zinc can cause hair loss, impotence, skin problems like acne, and mental problems. Zinc supplementation is commonly recommended for stress.
- Foods Rich in Zinc: Oysters, Crab, Chicken, Pork, Lobster
The Naughty List
Just as some foods can support a good mood, others can leave us weaker both physically and mentally. Avoid these and their negative effects on both physical and mental health.
#1. Trans Fats
"We know the brain is 80 to 90 percent fat. If we are feeding it trans fat, a sticky fat, neurotransmitter functions can be impaired," said Dr. Carnahan. Avoid these bad fats found in hydrogenated oils like margarine, and instead opt for good fats like those found in nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados.
Caffeinated beverages dehydrate the body, deplete magnesium, increase anxiety and tension, and negatively impact sleep. Skip the coffee and opt for herbal tea or a nutrient-packed smoothie for a morning boost!
#3. Sugar and Simple Carbs
Too much sugar and simple carbs can cause your body to run too quickly through its stores of vitamins and minerals. It also causes a spike in blood sugar levels associated with anxiousness and irritability. To compensate, the body will release insulin and glucagon to break down it down, and if too much is released, low blood sugar or hypoglycemia results. Hypoglycemia is a condition commonly associated with depression. Avoid excess sugar and opt for complex carbs like whole grain wheat, brown rice, and potatoes instead of white bread products.
Depression Help For You: Why Does a Depression Diet Affect Mood?
How Food Affects Your Mood
Epigee: Diet and Mood
EZine Articles: Natural Anxiety Cure - Magnesium
Social Anxiety Disorder Resources: B Vitamins