THE BEST (AND WORST) FOODS FOR YOUR MOOD

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By Trevor MacDonald

It’s a fact; you are what you eat. The foods you eat steer the direction of your mood. Eating healthy foods gives you a positive state of mind and the opposite when you eat foods that are bad for you. Here’s a roundup of the best and worst type of foods that affect your mood along with a list of corresponding top food sources.

The Best Foods for Your Mood

The best foods for your mood are not necessarily the foods that satisfy your cravings or a comfort food that’s reminiscent of mom’s home-cooked meals. They’re foods that trigger your brain, nervous system, and body to promote a healthier state of mind. Be warned, a severe deficiency can result in adverse effects to your mood. For a mental pick-me-up, eat foods that contain the following.

Amino acids

The amino acids‘ tryptophan, vitamin C, and vitamin D convert to the relaxing neurotransmitter serotonin. Lacking amino acids in your diet causes serotonin levels to drop leading to psychological consequences like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

  • Tryptophan
    • Bananas
    • Chocolate
  • Vitamin C
    • Oranges
    • Grapefruit
    • Carrots
  • Vitamin D
    • Mushrooms
    • Salmon

Betaine

The brain uses betaine to create a natural antidepressant SAMe. This combination has been effective in people suffering from depression.

  • Butternut squash
  • Beets
  • Spinach
  • Wheat bran
  • Quinoa

Capsaicin

You know that tingly feeling you get when eating spicy foods? That’s capsaicin in hot peppers. It triggers your body to produce endorphins to block the pain from the spicy heat. Resulting in a light-headed happy feeling.

  • Jalapenos
  • Chili peppers
  • Sriracha sauce

Choline

Psychology today identifies choline as the “nutritional all-star” for its significant role in regulating brain development and cell membranes. Choline deficiency mood symptoms include anxiety and mood changes.

  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Salmon

Folate

Folate is a natural form of vitamin B9 found in our foods. It helps the body support serotonin regulation. Serotonin influences your mood and social behavior.

  • Leafy greens
  • Legumes
  • Asparagus
  • Orange juice

Lycopene

This antioxidant prevents the buildup of interleukin-6. An organic compound linked to depression when consumptions are significantly low.

  • Tomates
  • Watermelon
  • Berries

Magnesium

Known as the “mood mineral”. Magnesium is linked to 700 significant body functions. It helps combat fatigue, anxiety, and depression.

  • Beans
  • Oatmeal
  • Chia seeds

Omega-3 fatty acids

In nations where fish is consumed the most, depression is less common. Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids aids in controlling mood disorders.

  • Fish: Mackerel, Salmon, and Herring
  • Codfish oil
  • Flaxseeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Walnuts

 

 

Probiotics

These are the good-for-you bacteria known to promote a healthy digestive system. There is evidence to support that irritable bowel syndrome is linked to anxiety and depression. The healthier the gut, the healthier the mood.

  • Yogurt
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso soup
  • Kefi and other fermented beverages
  • Tempeh

Flavonoids

This naturally occurring antioxidant from plant pigments helps prevent mood disturbances. When eaten regularly, it can decrease the likelihood of depression, especially for middle-aged woman.

  • Quinoa
  • Apples
  • Green and Chamomile tea
  • Chocolate
  • Pomegranates
  • Red wine

Zinc

A mineral that is the driver to your brain and body’s reaction to stress. Since the human body cannot store zinc, regular consumption is needed to avoid a zinc deficiency. A diet that severely lacks zinc can provoke depression, aggression, and violence.

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Oysters

The Worst Foods for Your Mood

Don’t let the short list below fool you. Eating these worst foods can be detrimental to your well-being and mood. Constantly eating bad-for-you foods goes beyond experiencing temporary mood swings and anxiety. These worst foods have been linked to severe psychological symptoms. Limit the following foods in your diet to avoid feeling your worst.

Alcohol

Alcohol and depression have a complex connection. People who drink to forget their troubles aren’t necessarily depressed, but the effects of long-term alcohol abuse can lead to health problems, alcoholism, and depression.

Gluten

A protein found in wheat, rye, and barley that can cause digestive problems, especially those with celiac disease. These digestive problems have been linked with symptoms of anxiety and depression.

  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Cereals
  • Breakfast foods
  • Crackers

GMOs

Genetically modified organisms may provoke food allergies and gluten sensitivity. This triggers digestive problems, anxiety, and depression.

  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Sugar
  • Vegetable oils
  • Papayas
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow squash
  • Dairy (non-organic)

 

 

Processed meats

Meats that contain sodium nitrite and potassium nitrate influences the bacteria in our gut. Similar to the effects of gluten and GMOs, processed meats can have an adverse effect on your emotional state.

  • Nitrate cured bacon
  • Beef jerky
  • Ham
  • Salami

Refined foods

Consuming refined foods bring about hormonal changes that reduce blood sugar levels. This causes mood swings, fatigue, and depression in postmenopausal women.

  • Pasta
  • White bread
  • White rice
  • Sodas

There are many food choices available. Be knowledgeable of the kind of foods you’re eating and how it will make you feel. Eat foods that are not-so-good for you at a minimum and make sure to eat foods that are good for you as much as you can. Do this and you’ll have a happier version of you.

 

Trevor is a freelance content writer and a recovering addict & alcoholic who’s been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.

 

For more articles by Trevor MacDonald click here.

 

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References:

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/gug-family-toc~gug-family-foods~gug-family-foods-basic

http://www.eatingwell.com/article/141652/7-foods-to-boost-your-mood/

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https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-26577/7-foods-scientifically-proven-to-make-you-happier.html

5 Foods That Can Cause Depression

Diet and depression

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Omega-3 fatty acids for mood disorders

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