Your Food & Your Mood: How What You Eat Affects the Way You Feel
It may come as no surprise that the food you choose to fuel your body has a direct effect on your physical health—but did you know it can also have a profound effect on your mood?
Serotonin is the key hormone for stabilizing our mood and creating a sense of wellbeing, and 90% of our bodies’ serotonin is produced in our digestive systems. The level of serotonin a body produces depends largely on the quality of food consumed, so it is important to fill your diet with as much healthy, nutritionally rich foods as possible.
Recent studies have found people who enjoy a Mediterranean-style diet (lean protein with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) have a 33% lower risk of developing depression when compared to people with less Mediterranean diets.
Mood-Boosting Food Options
Fatty Fish: Incorporating fish like albacore tuna and salmon into your diet provides you body with a much-needed dose of Omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fat that has been linked to lowering levels of depression.
Fermented Foods: Foods like kimchi, kombucha, kefir and sauerkraut are full of probiotics—live microorganisms that keep your gut healthy and may increase serotonin levels.
Beans & Lentils: Not only are beans and lentils an excellent source of protein, they also happen to be chock full of B Vitamins, zinc, selenium, and magnesium, all of which may help to boost your mood.
Berries: Berries are rich in antioxidants and can help reduce inflammation and improve your mood. Berries also contain anthocyanins—the pigment that gives them their deep color—which have been associated with reducing the risk of depression.
Foods to Avoid
Sugar: Simple sugars are hidden in many pre-packaged foods and can cause blood sugar to spike. Studies have found a link between sugar consumption and depression, so it is best to limit sugar intake to natural sugars found in fruits.
Caffeine: We’ve all experienced the unsettling feeling when we overconsume coffee—the restlessness and jitters. Too much caffeine can actually mimic the symptoms of anxiety, so it is best to limit your consumption as much as possible. Thankfully, there are many herbal tea blends that mimic the flavor of coffee without the caffeine.
Over-Processed Foods: Let’s face it—most prepackaged foods, while convenient, are full of inflammation-inducing ingredients like sugar, sodium, and unhealthy fats, and are painfully lacking in the wholesome ingredients and micronutrients needed to provide energy to our bodies. Eating a diet high in processed foods can lead to feelings of sluggishness and a lack of mental clarity.
While it may be tempting—and the world often tells us—to sooth ourselves by “eating our feelings” or overindulging in ice cream and cookies, the truth is making bad decisions about what we eat can affect our overall mental health.
Offer you body wholesome foods full of the vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats needed to keep your body and mind healthy. Start by making small changes…you’ll be amazed how much better you feel!