It has been rightly said – “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well”. To put it in a simple way, food is the best medicine for anything. Similarly, the connection between food and mood is very intricate.
The father of modern medicine and an eminent Greek physician, Hippocrates once told, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Thousands of years have gone by and we still believe in his theories and practices. We use food to prevent and cure numerous diseases of the human body and also nourish the human system, yet, still today we doubt on the capability of food and the right choices to heal our mind.
The Connection Between Food and Mood
The connection between food and mood is not something that is a theory to read and follow. We all know that some foods can be both healing and also stressful at the same time. Like caffeine and dark chocolate for example: they provides initial inhibitions. Chocolate have mixed reactions. Apart from being full with disease preventing and cell protecting antioxidants, it is rich in fats and sugars. Caffeine too can help in increasing concentration and propagate motivation, but is addictive. But, both of these one thing in common – flavonols. These flavonols have the capacity to control and reduce bad cholesterols that are responsible for clogging our arteries.
Eating certain foods can really help in keeping bad mood stranded. The science that works behind all these is based out of a simple equation: changes in our diet and by eating certain foods, we can impact our gut health and our gut health can impact our brain structure, its chemistry and as well its physiology, which can further lead to changes in our mood and behavior.
Our Eating Habits and Specific Foods That Can Help Elevate or Boost our Mood
As the scientific community is still on the lookout to learn mood on how foods can affect our mood, there are certain food that can help elevate our mood and make our spirits high.
- Salmon and Other Fatty Fishes
Regular eating salmon and other fatty fishes like mackerel, tuna sardines can help keep control over your emotions and boost mood and all of these foods have one thing in common – Omega – 3 fatty acids. Deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids can lead to poor development of the brain and cause mental health issues.Walnuts and canola oil are plant foods high in omega- 3. Combined with whole grains, healthy fats can work wonders for your mood.
- Make Sure to Have Oatmeal for Breakfast
Oatmeal along with brown rice, quinoa, millet and wild rice are some whole grains that are rich sources of B vitamins, nutrients that are essential and vital for our brain health. These are foods that can help you get out of the slump. The fibers helps stay full and satiated, thereby letting the brain be at peace for normal functioning.
- Spruce up your Pro-biotic Intake
Pro-biotics are referred to for their all important role in our digestive and gut health. But, emerging research and studies proves that there is a direct link between our gut and our brain. The brain and the gut communicated with each other through the gut-brain axis. Yoghurt is a great source of probiotics along with other fermented foods like kimchi, tempeh, miso, sauerkraut and pickled vegetables.
- Load on Spinach and Other Leafy Greens
Spinach and other leafy green vegetables like kale, Swiss chard and even broccoli contains the B vitamin, folate. And, it is the deficiency of folate that has been linked numerous times in researches with conditions of depression and low mood. Folate deficiency can also impair the metabolism of neuro-transmitters of the brain like serotonin and dopamine. Folate can be found in plenty in beans and lentils too.
- Egg Yolk and a Healthy Dose of Sunshine
Egg yolks are rich source of the rare, vitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin and is naturally produced in the human body when it gets expose to the ultraviolet B rays of the sun. Vitamin D improves the levels of serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter responsible for mood. Deficiency of which can lead to mood disorders and other metal issues. Soy milk, orange juice and salmon fish are other few more examples of food with vitamin D.
- All-time Favorite Chocolate
Eating dark chocolate helps reducing the levels of cortisol, along with other stress hormones in us. All thanks to the rich anti-oxidant presence in dark chocolates. Do ensure that you don’t go for the milk chocolates as than apart from the normal stress, you will also have to deal with the stress of those extra pounds too.
Blueberries can really make you feel better and happy. It is again the anti-oxidant that helps the brain stay happy and delighted. The flavonoid in blueberry have the capacity to regulate mood, protect the brain from aging and also helps in improving memory power. The anti-oxidants can o more than it, they can actually prevent you from severe mental health issues.
Probiotics and the Gut-Mood Connection
The human gut houses numerous microorganisms – bacteria, yeasts, fungi and others. All of these microorganisms resided in our digestive tract in colonies. The colonization of these microorganisms in our gut is called the gut microbiota.
The gut microbiota contains both – good and bad bacteria in a balanced state and have many roles to play like digestion, immunity and even weight loss. When this balance is disturbed, the entire system gets disturbed.
The human gut is also directly linked to the brain through the gut-brain axis. It is through this connection the gut and the brain directly interacts with each other and passed signals. When the gut microbiota gets disturbed the brain also gets disturbed and hence a number of mental issues.
Probiotics are strains of good bacteria found in fermented foods or supplements that helps restoring the disturbed gut microbiota and thus maintain a healthy gut.
Small changes in our lifestyle and our diet make a huge difference on how we feel. While the research on food and mood is still underway and scientist are still in the process to confirm the latest developments, foods can keep us healthy physically and psychologically as well. Food is often used as a mean to control anxiety and depression from a long time, and it confirms great outcomes.