Researchers are studying the links between what we eat and how we feel. Patrick Holford, a London, England–based nutritionist and author of The Feel Good Factor: 10 Proven Ways to Boost Your Mood and Motivate Yourself says that there is a dramatic connection between our diet and our emotions. “Food is a powerful tool that’s often overlooked in its effect on mental health.” There is evidence that changing your diet can change your metabolism and brain chemistry, ultimately affecting your energy level and mood and behavior.
Though it hasn’t been fully proven yet, why not use food to improve your mood. It’s safe, healthy and there wouldn’t be any harm in trying since food is what our body ultimately needs in order to survive.
Below are surprisingly feel good foods that you can eat everyday:
Cashews, Almonds, and Hazelnuts
Nuts are rich in protein and magnesium, a mineral that plays a key role in converting sugar into energy. When your magnesium supply is low, your energy is easily drained. Nuts are an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, a type of fat that’s needed for brain cells and mood-lifting neurotransmitters to function properly and possible help some people with depression. Nuts to the mix for selenium, a mineral that may be a natural mood booster. Studies have linked low selenium to poorer moods. Smaller amounts of selenium are also found in meats, seafood, beans, and whole grains. Don’t overdo it: Too much selenium is harmful.
Lean pork, lean beef, skinless chicken, and turkey are sources of protein that include the amino acid tyrosine. Tyrosine boosts levels of two brain chemicals (dopamine and norepinephrine) that can help you feel more alert and focused. Meats also contain vitamin B-12, which may help ease insomnia and depression.
Fatty fish, such as salmon and halibut, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may protect against depression and be good for heart health. Foods high in omega-3s, such as salmon and other fatty fish, have been found to promote feelings of well-being. Studies of people who traditionally eat high amounts of fish, such as those who live in the Mediterranean region, have found that these people have lower rates of depression.
It’s especially important for pregnant women, breastfeeding moms, and children to stick to eating low-mercury fish, such as salmon. Eat up to 12 ounces of lower-mercury fish per week (a salmon steak can equal 4 to 6 oz.); serve smaller portions to
Mussels are loaded with some of the highest naturally occurring levels of brain-protecting vitamin B12 on the planet. That makes the mollusk an important food source, considering that a significant portion of the U.S. population is B12 deficient. So what’s the nutrient’s mood-saving trick? Maintaining a healthy level preserves the myelin sheath that insulates your brain cells, helping your brain stay sharp as you grow older.
Mussels also contain trace nutrients that are important to balancing your mood, including zinc, iodine, and selenium, things vital to keeping your thyroid, your body’s master mood regulator, on track. An added benefit? Mussels are a healthy choice for you and the environment, which isn’t always the case when it comes to fish.
Asparagus has loads of tryptophan, which serves as a basis for the creation of serotonin, one of the brain’s primary mood-regulating neurotransmitters. High levels of folate also add to asparagus’s happiness-promoting profile; research has shown that up to 50 percent of people with depression suffer from low folate levels. Like tryptophan, it’s a necessary factor for creating neurotransmitters. It’s also good to add to the menu if you plan on drinking. The enzymes in asparagus are highly effective in breaking down alcohol in your system, preventing a hangover—and that can make anyone happy.
Blue potatoes aren’t a common supermarket find, but they’re popping up as a unique offering at farmer’s markets all over the country. The color in blue potatoes is courtesy of anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that provide neuro-protective benefits such as bolstering short-term memory and reducing mood-killing inflammation. Be sure to eat their skins, too. The potatoes’ skins are loaded with iodine, a diet-derived nutrient essential for life, and one that helps regulate the thyroid, what Dr. Ramsey calls one of our “master mood regulators.”
So, when you’re feeling down and blue, there’s actually no need to go shopping or do something extreme. The remedy may be just inside your fridge.