Food That Elevates Your Mood
Food has become a taboo in our society. It's the perfect villain: it makes you lazy, it gives you diabetes, it makes you fat and it caused global warming. And economic collapse. And AIDS.
Can we stop sabotaging the one necessity of
life that can actually be enjoyed? Too much of a good thing can turn bad, but a little bad shouldn't corrupt all the good-especially considering that the "too much" part was of our own inability to face temptation.
Instead of trying to eradicate food from our sustained living, let's learn our limits and appreciate it for a change.
Food is vital for wellbeing: it stimulates growth and thinking, it provides nourishment and energy, and it even tastes good! As if that wasn't enough to earn it respect, certain foods can also help regulate mood.
Forget the Prozac and peel a banana. Food
has the power to boost energy, get you
alert or relaxed, and it can even make
Countless research in scientific communities, including a study conducted in Columbia University, has shown that certain foods have the power to unleash neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, all of which are linked to mood control.
"Following a diet which contains foods
rich in naturally occurring serotonin will
improve your mood, leaving you...in a state of harmony and wellbeing," said Dr. Caroline Longmore in her eBook, "The Serotonin Secret."
Mood-altering chemicals are found in everything from ice-cream to chicken to
spinach, so learning to exploit the right
meals can work therapeutic wonders. Christmas and Hannukah are approaching; it's a time to gorge and relax, and chances are that the food on the table has a lot to do with the comfortable lethargy that gets all those relatives in an easy mood.
Turkey, chicken, pork, and even cheese contain the infamous amino acid tryptophan, which the body metabolizes into serotonin and
melatonin, neurotransmitters which exert soothing effects and regulate sleep.
Once the holidays are gone, switching to foods packed with protein can help you stay alert and focused on the work at hand. Instead of gorging on turkey and passing out, switch it up for some lean beef.
Protein rich foods contain tyrosine, which the brain uses to produce dopamine and norepinephrine, the two key neurotransmitters responsible for
alertness. Fish, shellfish, eggs, beans,
peas and yogurt are also a good source
Boron is another chemical to keep in mind if staying alert is what you're after. It controls hand-eye coordination,
attentiveness and short-term memory,
all of which should be harnessed if you
plan on passing the upcoming finals. So
before you give up hope on trying to
stay awake for history class, give these
a shot: apples, broccoli, avocados and
Food can even make you smarter, speaking of finals. Research studies have shown that people who eat choline-rich foods perform better on memory tests. Choline is present as a natural compound in many foods, including eggs, milk, beef, fish, soybeans, wheat, and nuts.
Sounds like a crafty breakfast-minus
the fish, maybe.
There are also a number of foods that
can help give you an energy boost and
fight of the sluggishness that comes with
shorter days and Seasonal Affective
Disorder (SAD). Oranges, sunflower
seeds, apples, and soy milk contain
slow digesting carbohydrates that
can deliver a steady source of energy
for the body.
Another great source of energy is spinach, and unless you've still got prepubescent taste, the stuff is delicious. Spinach is full of B vitamins and folate.
If happiness is what you're after, the
winter blues are no match for salmon.
Cold-water fish contain B12 vitamins
that lift your mood as well as omega-3
acids that have shown to help prevent
depression. The omega-3 fatty acid DHA
found in fish, yogurt and eggs, can help
make you smarter and happier. It raises
serotonin levels in the brain which help
regulate irritability and stress, much
like the vitamins in bananas, beans,
lobster, tuna, asparagus, pineapple, tofu
Neuroscientists at the Institute of Psychiatry in London conducted a study on ice-cream that showed pleasure centers in subjects' brains lighting up with every bite. Although taste may be a contributor, one of the quickest ways to a scientifically
sound happiness is actually dessert. It contains simple carbohydrates and sugars known to cause the release of serotonin and dopamine, the feel good neurotransmitters that make Prozac and ecstasy so popular.
Although certain foods can regulate the release of feel-good chemicals, they're not a quick or permanent fix to any serious mood-related problems.
There is great individual variation
concerning how effectively a body
utilizes food. A balanced diet is essential
for maintaining health and well-being.
Ask a nutritionist (or Google) for more
information on foods that might help
elevate your mood.