Food and the Happiness Factor

What we eat can change the way we feel and I don’t mean physically! We all know diet and exercise can effect how healthy we are and how well we age, but they can also a make a big difference on our mood and memory. Eating certain foods, exercise, and lifestyle choices, like not smoking, or drinking alcohol and getting plenty of sleep can most definitely improve your mood and mental health. Scientists are finding that more than genetics and our environment make a difference in how we feel emotionally, physically, and mentally. We can definitely make a difference in our mood by choosing what we add to our diet.

Some foods to add to your diet to up your mood:

Avocado

Avocado are a superfood and are loaded with benefits from protecting your heart and helping with digestion, but they also are a great pick for improving your mood. Avocados are natural hormone balancers, ensuring your brain is making the right chemicals needed to keep you feeling great. They are a great source of iron, therefore great for anemia and loaded with good for you fats and Vitamin C and E.

Grapes

These super little fruits are great when you want to feel good. When you look at their nutritional values, you see they are loaded with powerful antioxidant flavonoids which have been found to positively affect your mood. Their nourishing and strengthens qualities make grapes useful for those with fatigue  and depression.

Clams and wild caught Salmon 

These two are both loaded with Vitamin B12 and low levels of that vitamin can lead to depression, the brain needs B12 to make dopamine and serotonin, two very important neurotransmitters that affect our mood. People who are depressed, have low levels of B12, and were taking antidepressants felt much better after 3 months of adding a B12 supplement. You can even including canned clams like those in chowder to boost your B12 levels. If you don’t like clams or salmon you can get B12 from these other sources; seafood, other oily fish, as well as dairy products, nuts and fortified cereals.

Walnuts and Sesame Seeds

Raw nuts and seeds, especially walnuts, sesame and flax seed, are loaded with alpha-linolenic acid (or ANA). Studies show women who had the most ALA in their diets are less likely to be depressed. When your blood levels of ALA are low, so are you; low ALA levels increase inflammation, which has been shown to increase depression. Also low levels ALA decrease the level of the brain chemicals dopamine, which is responsible for feelings of joy, and serotonin, which inhibits anger and aggression, nuts are full of serotonin, a feel-good chemical that’s in short supply when you’re depressed.  You can also take alpha-linolenic acid  (or ALA) in supplements. Make sure you get a high quality brand.

Coffee

Women who drink two or more cups of caffeinated coffee every day were about 15% to 20% less likely to become depressed. We can thank caffeine for the happy boost—a psychoactive drug in caffeine works to increasing dopamine and serotonin transmitter in the brain within just 30 minutes of drinking coffee. Radishes also lift your mood by stimulating the release of dopamine and norepinephrine, in the brain.

Oysters

Oysters are one of nature’s richest sources of zinc. Low zinc levels are also linked to anxiety. Three ounces of fresh oysters  contains a substantial 52 mg of zinc and a 5-ounce serving contains 77 mg. Other good sources of Zinc are egg yolks, legumes, meat, mushrooms, and whole grains.

Yogurt & Kefir

Cultured dairy products like these increase your levels of probiotic bacteria—the healthy kind of bacteria living in your gut. People who eat probiotic yogurt twice a day have been shown to be less stressed. Your gut and your brain have regular conversations via the vagus nerve, so good bacteria may be spreading a message to chill and be happy, from your gut to your brain. Be sure to buy yogurt labeled with “Contains live and active cultures.” There are also good probiotic supplements on the market. You especially need to take supplemental probiotics if you take birth control pills, antibiotics, or steroids, since they kill off the good bacteria in the gut.

Dark Chocolate

Another great reason to indulge in this rich, dark chocolate (the darker, the better), is it’s loaded with chemicals, such as polyphenols, that boost your mood (one polyphenol actually mimics marijuana’s mood-boosting effects.).

Apricots and Strawberries 

These fruits are packed with vitamin B6, which has been shown to reduces depression in people 65 and older. And that’s not all, they contain the antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, higher levels of which are linked to higher moods. These sweet fruits are also high in Vitamins A and C, as well as, manganese which serve as a strong line of defense against brain degeneration, while also boosting happy chemicals in our brain. And who can argue at how awesome they taste? Other foods containing B6 and those antioxidants are carrots, chicken, eggs, and fish.

Mushrooms

Meaty and delectable mushrooms, especially Shiitake mushrooms can have an uplifting effect on your mood, thanks to their high levels of selenium and magnesium. Other sources of selenium are Brazil nuts, broccoli, brown rice, and garlic.

Pomegranate

The juice of this seed-packed fruit lowers blood pressure, anxiety, and depression in people who drink a glass of it every day for 2 weeks. (For a good source of these vitamins and minerals see earlier post Meme’s Healing Juice.)

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