As we enter into the holiday season, the mental health of many of us is at risk. While some may choose to indulge in comforting treats, others may not be able to get out of bed due to sadness. This is a time of year when we need all of our mental “tools” handy in order to keep balanced and happy! Here are some foods that can help boost your mood, keep you satisfied and nourished during this busy time of year!
Food For Mood Booster
Serotonin, a messenger substance for nerve cells, is, among other things, responsible for our happy feelings. Our bodies produce it on their own. Serotonin controls our feeling of satiety and ensures serenity, harmony and satisfaction.
A serotonin deficiency, on the other hand, manifests itself in symptoms such as a depressed mood, anxiety, aggression and increased appetite. Therefore, it makes sense to maintain your serotonin level at an all time high. In order for the “happiness hormone” to be produced, the amino acid tryptophan is required, which can be found in everyday foods.
Here is our list:
In addition to tryptophan, the yellow tropical fruit also contains a lot of vitamins: A, B1, B2, B3, B5 and C and is therefore a really healthy mood-enhancer. It is ripe when the peel is covered with black dots and only then it tastes really sweet. Due to the high amount of magnesium, it also has an antispasmodic effect.
This regional superfood is full of essential nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, which our body cannot produce by itself. They also have a positive effect on your digestive system because they swell up in the intestines. When crushed, it can be absorbed better by our body. Flaxseed oil is also a real miracle weapon against depression. It also lifts your mood and has the ability to increase mental performance.
The bread of the desert has a very high concentration of trace elements, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Not only your happiness benefits from the contained tryptophan. If dates are eaten in the evening, they contribute to a deeper and generally better sleep. This makes them the perfect alternative to unhealthy sweets because unlike chocolate, they hardly contain any fat.
Strictly speaking, this “nut” is actually a fruit and with its healthy unsaturated fatty acids, protects the cardiovascular system when consumed in moderation. In stressful situations, they provide you with magnesium and the high tryptophan content creates an antidepressant effect as well.
The oldest cultivated plant in the world is a real miracle worker. Onions are used in naturopathy, among other things, for respiratory diseases such as coughs and runny nose. It also alleviates stomach and intestinal problems. The vapors often make us cry when we cook. However, it is precisely these essential oils that can inhibit inflammation and germs. Onion juice is known to help against anxiety and depression.
Chickpeas have a high tryptophan content and help keep you in a good mood. They are available pre-cooked in cans or dried. If dried, they need to be left to soak overnight, cooked and then made into stews or puree (hummus). They also contain iron, B vitamins and calcium. In addition, with 20g protein per 100g, it represents a high-quality vegetable protein source, which is ideal as a meat substitute.
This green berry is a real nutrient bomb. It is rich in healthy simple fatty acids, which our body uses for the production of hormones and can therefore bring the entire hormone system into balance if consumed regularly. As soon as the peel gives way to pressure, it is ripe and edible. The avocado also provides the important building material tryptophan to ensure a good mood.
This pseudo-grain, also called the Inca magic grain, amazes with its high content of protein, minerals and is also gluten-free. In addition, quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids and is therefore particularly valuable for those who do not eat meat. It is available in red, black and white variations and makes us happy because of its tryptophan content.
The fiery pod is one of the healthiest drugs in the world. Our body perceives its pungent taste as pain and, as a countermeasure, releases the happiness hormone endorphin, which causes a lot of happiness. Furthermore, their anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects protect our body from bacteria and fungi.
10. DARK CHOCOLATE
The black gold is considered a classic among those foods that provide you with happiness. But what is it about the claim that chocolate makes you happy? Tryptophan can also be found in chocolate. However, only in a very low concentration, which is why it is assumed that chocolate makes you happy for different reasons. Rather, it is about psychology. Because most of us have learned from childhood to combine chocolate enjoyment with positive feelings, which is why we instantly feel happy by eating a piece.
Healthy Foods to Boost Your Mood
Not only does a healthy diet help control your waistline, but smarter food choices may also help ward off symptoms of depression. The best nutritional plan to prevent depression is likely to be a varied diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. While you increase these healthy foods, cut down on the processed and prepackaged foods you eat, according to dietary recommendations for depression published in August 2015 in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience.
“Eating several servings of fruits and veggies daily, along with whole grains, lean meats, and occasional treats is the best way to support good mental and physical health throughout life,” says Felice Jacka, PhD, president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR) and the Australian Alliance for the Prevention of Mental Disorders. Dr. Jacka’s research into the relationship between diet and depression has pointed to the importance of healthy foods and a varied diet to boost mood. “The way that food interacts in our bodies to support or reduce health is highly complex,” she says. “This is why reducing the focus to single nutrients or food components is of limited value.”
Along with a prescribed treatment plan, certain foods may help manage depression by providing a variety of important nutrients. Start by putting these 10 foods on your menu.
Jacka recommends consuming fresh nuts on a daily basis. Nuts are healthy foods densely packed with fiber, protein, and healthy fats — just keep track of calories, which can add up quickly. Try to get about 1 ounce a day of mixed nuts, including walnuts and almonds. Munch on nuts containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts and almonds, for the greatest long-term benefits.
High-quality proteins are building blocks for a mood-boosting diet, Jacka says. She highlights grass-fed beef as an example of a healthy protein to include for balancing depression and diet. According to Jacka’s research team, grass-fed beef contains more of the healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, that might play a role in managing depression.
Fish is one healthy food that can help fight depression, according to research published in January 2014 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Fish plays a role in many traditional regional diets, such as the Mediterranean, Norwegian, and Japanese diets, that have been studied and recommended for their anti-depressive benefits. Try eating a 3-ounce serving of fish two or three times a week, Jacka says.
Choosing whole grains and high-fiber foods over refined sugar and flour products is good for your body and brain health. “Keeping your blood sugar stable by not eating too many sweets or highly refined carbohydrates is a good place to start,” says Marjorie Nolan Cohn, RD, CDN, a dietitian in New York City. “Blood sugar-stabilizing foods can affect mood by helping to regulate brain neurotransmitter secretions.” Women should get 25 grams of fiber daily, while men need 38 grams, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The more fruit you eat, the lower your risk of depression, according to a review of research examining the correlation between fruit and vegetable consumption and depression. The results of the data analysis appeared in September 2015 in the journal Nutrition. Fruit is rich in vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients, making it a great food to indulge in when you want a sweet sensation. Eating a variety of fruits, including berries, is ideal, Jacka says. Aim for 1½ to 2 cups of fruit daily, recommends the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Start with a banana — a healthy sweet treat that’s been linked to improving mood.
“Eat a wide array of vegetables, with lots of leafy greens and high-fiber root vegetables,” Jacka says. The same research analysis that linked higher fruit intake with reduced depression risk suggested that eating more vegetables correlates with the same outcome. When you’re feeling blue, a carrot might be the last thing on your mind, but the variety of vitamins and minerals in vegetables, as well as their fiber content, may help protect you against low mood and depression. You’ll want 2 to 3 cups of vegetables daily, the USDA says.
“The new and rapidly emerging field of research into gut health suggests that diet is essential in maintaining healthy intestinal microbiota, which appears to influence behavior as well as health,” Jacka says. Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, kombucha, and certain yogurts are good sources of healthy bacteria called probiotics.
Beans and Peas
The Mediterranean-style diet has many advantages, including a potential role in preventing and managing depression over your life span, according to a study published in February 2013 in The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging. Legumes, including lentils, beans, peas, and chickpeas are a large component of the Mediterranean diet. What’s more, legumes and other high-fiber foods (including oatmeal, asparagus, and bananas) support gut health by providing prebiotics, which feed the healthy bacteria in your gut.
Depending on your age and gender, you should be eating 1 to 2 cups of beans per week, according to the USDA. Reach for some warming lentil soup or scoop up hummus with raw veggies at your next meal.
Research published in May 2013 in the Journal of Psychopharmacology looked at the mood and cognitive benefits of having a chocolate drink every day for a month. Chocolate contains a type of antioxidant called polyphenols, which are thought to boost mood. The 72 female participants were divided into three groups, drinking cocoa with 0 mg, 250 mg, or 500 mg of polyphenols. Those who drank the chocolate with the highest polyphenol count experienced the greatest boost in mood, feeling calmer and more content.