Our moods are dependent on a combination of factors, only some of which are within our immediate control. Yet we all want to feel good. Experts have found that the foods we eat often play a role in our emotional health, and the meal choices we make each day can directly impact how grounded we feel. Here are five foods that may help boost mood.
The Importance of Eating the Right Foods
We really are what we eat — the food we put into our bodies is more than merely a collection of calories and nutrients. Depending on the composition of a given dish, we might use the components to build muscle, make nerve cells or create chemical messengers. And of course, several nutrients are tied to our ability to feel good.
Try these five selections for the best variety of mind-balancing building blocks:
- Probiotics help regulate the microbiome in the gut, which evidence suggests plays a major role in producing serotonin, one of our major “feel-good” chemicals. Sauerkraut and other cultured and fermented foods like kimchi, pickles and kombucha are great sources.
- Oily fish or Chia contain two potentially helpful components: omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D. The omega 3’s have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties that can ease both depressive and anxious symptoms, while deficiencies in vitamin D may cause or worsen some cases of depression.
- Dark chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, both chemicals researchers believe can boost mood. Whereas caffeine increases energy and general wellbeing, high doses can worsen anxiety. Theobromine appears to be less potent and tends to have a calming effect at typical doses.
- Green tea is a rich source of L-Theanine, which affects receptors that stimulate emotional excitement. Research has shown its consumption has specific anti-stress effects.
- Leafy Greens contain tryptophan, which is a precursor to serotonin. Research has shown people deficient in tryptophan can’t make sufficient amounts of the feel-good chemical, ultimately leading to depression. And leafy greens are the best food overall.
These are just a handful of the many different foods we can increase in our diets to help us take back our moods. We’re learning more all the time about how important the foods we eat are to our mental wellbeing, and the evidence shows the broader we can make our diets, the greater our chances of living healthy, happy lives.
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