Ever wonder about the connection between what you eat and how you feel? Foods can trigger many emotions, from excitement and euphoria to sluggishness and sleepiness. But when it comes to feeling down, good nutrition has a serious upside.
Research shows that eating certain foods can help keep bad moods at bay. Keep reading to learn which foods can produce feel-good chemicals and lift your spirits.
How nutrition affects our emotions
Fueling your body with healthy, nutrient-rich foods can produce “good” bacteria in your gut, which may promote positive emotions.
If you find yourself indulging in unhealthy foods when you’re having a rough day, you’re certainly not alone. Comfort foods fill us with a sense of satisfaction and relief. Turns out, foods high in sugar, fat, and salt actually make you feel better by stimulating the brain’s reward system.
But oftentimes, these foods make you crash and burn with a quick drop in blood sugar – leading to more irritability. However, just as some foods can make you feel sluggish, other foods can actually boost your mood and provide a sense of well-being.
While more research is still emerging on how nutrition influences our mental health, some scientists believe it’s due to the serotonin produced in the gastrointestinal tract. (This is why you often hear about the brain-gut connection.) Fueling your body with healthy, nutrient-rich foods can produce “good” bacteria in your gut, which may promote positive emotions.
So, the next time you’re feeling in a slump, try munching on good-mood-food! Here is our list of the top 5 foods that can lift your spirits.
5 Foods that can naturally boost your mood
Ever wonder why eating chocolate makes you happy? Chocolate comes from cacao seeds, which stimulate the brain to release neurotransmitters. This can help trigger emotions like euphoria and bliss. When you eat cacao, the body produces a natural, adrenal-related chemical called phenylethylamine (PEA). It usually occurs when you feel excited or in love, causing your pulse to speed up.
In addition to improving your mood, raw cacao contains 4 times more antioxidants than regular dark chocolate and even 20 times more than blueberries. Plus, research shows that the antioxidant content in cacao is even more beneficial to your health than tea. Talk about a ‘wow’ factor!
Here’s another good reason to go bananas for bananas: they’re a natural mood-booster! Bananas contain the amino acid tryptophan, which produces serotonin. Serotonin is a natural mood stabilizer and has been shown to help with stress.
In addition to being rich in potassium and fiber, this ap-peeling fruit is high in vitamin B6, which also helps release serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin and dopamine are chemical messengers often referred to as the “happy hormones” because they play an important role in regulating moods and emotions.
Did you know you can fight the blues with berries? Research shows that berries are packed with potent antioxidants called anthocyanins, which can help improve your mood and fight inflammation.
But that’s not all! Berries that are rich in vitamin C, such as blueberries, acai, and acerola, can reduce the production of the stress hormone cortisol and help elevate your mood.
4. Nuts and seeds
Not only are nuts an excellent source of plant-based protein, fibre, and healthy fats – but they have the ability to turn that frown upside down! Like bananas – nuts and seeds are great sources of tryptophan which helps produce the feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin.
Pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, and pistachios provide the highest amounts of tryptophan, but all nuts are loaded with important minerals that contain brain-boosting benefits.
Popeye may have been eating spinach to become big and strong, but is it possible it improved his mood, too? Studies show that spinach contains high amounts of vitamin B9, folate. A deficiency in folate impairs the metabolism of serotonin and dopamine.
Folate-rich foods such as leafy greens are also high in vitamin C, which can help reduce cortisol levels.
Healthy Good Mood Foods
While it may be tempting to indulge in sugary or salty snacks the next time you’re feeling down – they won’t do your health any good in the long run. Instead, opt for nutrient-rich foods that will improve your health AND boost your mood.
Not sure you want to give up brownies, cookies, or mac and cheese? We’ve got you covered! Here is a list of out top 10 healthy comfort food recipes!