Foods that promote serenity and happiness
The love month is now in our rear view mirror and March has arrived. It is important to remember the things that not only make us feel love externally but also, what makes our body feel loved. Believe it or not, FOOD is one of the major components. When it comes to improving our mood, nourishing our body, and feeling great, every bite we take plays an important role.
You might be asking yourself; how can food bring serenity and happiness?
Two organ systems have the biggest impact on our mood. They are (drum roll) digestion and blood sugar levels. Our blood sugar manipulates our energy level throughout the day, which impacts our mood. A good example is when you start getting hungry. This feeling occurs when blood sugar becomes low and as a result, we start feeling angry or negative. To prevent this, we can manage our blood sugar by strategizing the fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and fiber we eat through the day, and by eating healthy snacks to reduce those ups and downs.
Then we have the digestive system. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain. About 95% of serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract, so your digestive system doesn’t just help you digest food; it also guides your emotions.
Even though we have many nutrients that contribute to our happiness and serenity, the ones at the top of the list are:
- Folate: it plays an important role in our brain’s metabolic pathways, along with managing concentration, memory, appetite, and mood. Sources where we can find folate are asparagus, lentils, black-eyed peas, broccoli, avocado, beans, chickpeas, beets, kale, parsnips, artichokes, peanuts, sunflower seeds, mango, raspberries, pomegranates, scallions, papaya.
- Fats: Known to be essential for mood management. Our central nervous system needs omega-3’s. The beneficial fats inhibit inflammatory activity and support neurotransmissions. It is important to eat a range of different healthy-fat-rich foods. Sources where we can find them are flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, avocado, olive oil.
- Antioxidants: These boost our mood through neuroprotection and cell function and they behave similarly to antidepressants! With so many different kinds, their specific behaviors are still becoming known as they all act on different cells and molecules. However, we do know that they all interact to support antioxidant activity in the brain. Incorporating different antioxidant-rich ingredients into your diet will make sure you cover multiple bad mood triggers! Sources where we can find them are turmeric, blackberries, dark chocolate, bananas, blueberries, peaches, cherries, strawberries, apples, nectarines, black tea, mangoes, pecans and raspberries.
- Magnesium: Is essential for proper muscle relaxation, and physical ease influences our mental state for the better. Plus, it’s needed for energy production. Just like our muscles need energy when we work out, our brains need nutrients to produce energy to think and manage our organs. Without sufficient magnesium, we can become unfocused, lose control over our emotions, and experience disrupted sleep cycles (and we know what lack of sleep does to mood and appetite!). Sources where we can find them are spinach, buckwheat, pepitas, almonds, swiss chard, tempeh, dark chocolate and chia seeds
Remember to always pay attention to how eating different foods makes you feel, and not just in the moment, but the next day or two. Everyone is different, and can react differently to certain foods. So eat mindfully, and keep track of what specific foods help you feel your best.