Food choices are highly significant. If you’re struggling with feeling down or more irritable than you’d like, it might be time to think about what you’re putting into your body in terms of food and drink. There really are feel good foods that help low moods. Experts in nutrition say that what we’re eating can have a positive, or negative, effect on our mood over both the short and long term.
When your digestive system is stressed, perhaps because you’re withholding food by following a fad diet, or not getting enough water and fiber to keep things running smoothly, you can’t be at your best. Making changes to support your body are the best things you can do to improve your mood. Starting with a heart healthy diet, one that’s loaded with fiber but low in saturated fat is a totally natural way to boost mood.
Foods That Help Your Mood:
Eat foods rich in B12 and folic acid – as these two vitamins appear to help prevent problems with the central nervous system, mood disorders and dementia. Folic acid is in beans and greens; B12 comes in meats, fish, poultry and dairy.
Enjoy lots of fruits and veggies – one study found that eating two added servings of these foods a day was linked to an 11% higher likelihood of good health. Those who ate the highest amount of fruits and veggies felt better about their health. Both are packed with nutrients and antioxidant phytochemicals that have been linked time and time again with health and quality of life.
Eat selenium rich foods – in whole grains like oatmeal, whole grain bread and brown rice, this mineral acts like an antioxidant inside the body, and research suggests that the presence of oxidative stress in the brain is linked to some cases of depression in the elderly. One study found that in the elderly, taking selenium supplements brought significant decreases in depression. Do what you can to get the recommended daily allowance of this nutrient, 55 micrograms a day for adults.
Eat fish – there have been several recent studies that find adults have a lower risk of depression if they eat fish, especially fatty kinds like salmon, also known to be full of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish seems to have positive effects on clinically defined mood disorders (postpartum depression is an example). Try herring, rainbow trout, salmon, sardines or tuna.
Get your daily vitamin D – very few foods naturally contain vitamin D (salmon, tuna and mackerel, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks), but there are fortified foods like breakfast cereals, breads, juice and milk. You can get vitamin D naturally from a few minutes of exposure to sunlight during off-peak hours or with supplements. Four recent studies showed a link between low serum levels of vitamin D and higher incidences of PMS, seasonal affective disorder, nonspecific mood disorder and major depressive disorder. You should aim to get at least 1,000 to 2,000 IUs of vitamin D each day.
Enjoy 1 ounce of chocolate – a small amount can give you a lift as it has an effect on the levels of brain endorphins, and it has also been shown to have an anti-clogging effect on blood vessels. A study in the Netherlands found those who ate 1/3 of a chocolate bar per day had lower blood pressure and rates of heart disease and had a higher sense of wellbeing.
Just as eating the right things can help you feel better, taking in too many of the wrong things are well known to cause you problems. Try to avoid the following items:
Foods high in saturated fat – they’re yummy, but new research shows this might play a role in depression, a recent study found that a cut in saturated fat over 6 weeks was linked to a decrease in feelings of depression.
Fluids to Avoid
Too much alcohol – though at first you feel good, alcohol is actually a depressant that works on the human brain and has an effect on all nerve cells. Depending on how much you drink, you can go from feeling great to experiencing exaggerated feelings an impaired coordination. It’s also no coincidence that depression often happens along with substance abuse.
Too much caffeine – as it can up your irritability in a few ways; by disrupting your sleep or because of that spiral into fatigue that comes after the burst of energy. Some are more sensitive to this than others, so you’ll want to cut down for a bit to see if this helps you.
And so . .
Once your body has adjusted to being given good foods you’ll start feeling better… feeling healthy and good moods are just more likely. Experts know that nutrients that come in some foods can influence the level of hormones like serotonin, while others can help with inflammation so that your blood circulates freely to all your organs. So if you’re struggling to manage your feelings try adjusting what you’re eating and drinking to include some of the feel-good foods that help moods and see what happens. You just might be surprised at the changes!