Thursday, January 10, 2013

Foods that Improve Your Mood

You may have heard the old saying you are what you eat. Have you ever given it much thought? The food you eat becomes a part of you, but take it a step further and you might find that the foods you eat can also improve your mood!

When I was pregnant, I felt the healthiest I've ever felt in my entire life. I felt truly happy, blessed, and amazing, for starters, plus I had a very good pregnancy. But I also tried to eat healthier and, except for some cookies and chocolate chip muffins here and there, I found that I often felt healthier than ever before, even though I was a bit more tired at times.

Chocolate is known to release endorphins that
can bring about a temporary good mood.
You may have heard, or experienced, that chocolate impacts the brain’s release of hormones, specifically endorphins and serotonin. This release of endorphins and serotonin bring about feelings of pleasure and comfort. Almost any woman can vouch for the power of chocolate! Some researchers attribute this to the small amounts of caffeine found in chocolate.

Of course, if you go about eating chocolate all the time to stay happy, you may find yourself dealing with other problems, like skin breakouts and a sugar rush that has you bouncing off the walls, or even a sugar crash an hour or so later, where you can barely keep your eyes open. Take some time to explore the best options in food to improve your mood.

How to Improve Mood with Food

If you find yourself easily
frustrated and moody, food may
improve your mood.
Eating some healthier foods can improve your life in a number of ways. First, you may notice improvements in your weight and body image. If you are watching your cholesterol and blood pressure, eating foods lower in fat and sodium will help your numbers. That in itself can improve your mood! However, a variety of special foods may also result in a mood change, giving you a more optimistic point of view and a happier perspective.

Some research suggests that vitamin D can increase serotonin levels, which may result in an improvement in mood for people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Some top Vitamin D foods to boost your mood may include egg yolks, fish with bones, and low-fat milk, to name a few. Foods rich in omega-3 fats also seem to have a mood-lifting impact that might chase away depression. Oily fish like salmon and mackerel are high in omega-3 fatty acids, as are walnuts, canola oil, and ground flax seeds, among other nutritious foods.

Folic acid (folate) and Vitamin B Complex also offer tremendous health benefits for improving your mood and your health in general. Consider foods like broccoli, beets, oranges, sunflower seeds, fortified whole-grain breakfast cereals, and oatmeal, as well as lean meats, shellfish, low-fat yogurt, and eggs, to get your food and mood on the right path.

Many people take medications containing serotonin for depression relief and to uplift their moods. Some foods for serotonin production include those with B vitamins and those with tryptophan, such as turkey, soy products, and bananas. You can include other foods to improve your mood and ensure your diet is healthy, balanced, and rich in these elements. Increases in serotonin and food choices rich in vitamins and healthy nutrients can dramatically impact your state of mind. Knowing when and what to eat for snacks as well as mealtime may give you just the right mood boosting benefits to make a real difference in your life and your perspective.

Remember to limit refined carbohydrates, like white rice or bread, while increasing your consumption of healthy proteins as you are able. Choose desirable carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, beans, and brown and wild rice to get your carb fix. Enjoy poultry, veal, seafood, eggs, and other healthy protein options as a great step in improving your mood with food.

The next time your mood leaves something to be desired, don’t reach straight for the junk food. Consider chowing down on some of these more nutritious snacks to help boost your frame of mind.

By Kathryn M. D’Imperio
Contributing Writer

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