We could all use a little more joy in our lives! Why not use the power of food to enhance our level of happiness. Good mental and physical health are a must when it comes to being happy! We all know that stress, anxieties and worries can affect our level of happiness, but did you know that what you choose to eat on a daily basis can affect your happiness as well?
Good Foods = Good Moods!
Here are a few foods that have been shown to increase mood and happiness. Incorporating them into your diet regularly can have a positive effect over time.
Fruits and Vegetables: We know that fresh fruits and vegetables are good for our health. But did you know that they can also greatly enhance your mood? They absolutely do and for a variety of reasons. The first is that they include plenty of vitamin C. Fresh fruits and veggies are our main source of this crucial vitamin. Not only does it give your immune system a boost, it's also an important building block for making dopamine, the happiness compound in our body. Of course it isn't the only part of fruits and veggies that help. Many of the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients we'll talk about in the rest of this chapter can be found in various fruits and veggies. They are also full of antioxidants, which plays an important role in reducing inflammation in the body. That has a powerful effect on your overall well-being and mode. Eating about 8 servings of fruits and veggies a day will have a noticeable effect on your mood.
Nuts and Seeds, walnuts in particular include high levels of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). Low levels of ALA have been associated with low moods and even depression. This is in part caused by the fact that low levels of ALA decreases the levels of dopamine in your system. Additionally low levels of ALA tend to increase inflammation throughout your body which has also been shown to aid depression. Incorporate walnuts, flax, and other nuts and seeds high in ALA in your diet and see if it makes a difference. Since it can take a little while for inflammation to go down, you can't expect immediate results. Give it a few weeks and see how you feel.
Clams and Oysters: Clams have very high levels of B12 which is another precursor for dopamine in the body. Low levels of B12 have been shown to cause depression. Oysters on the other hand are a great source of zinc. Low levels of zinc can cause anxiety, while high levels of zinc can help with depression. In other words, now may be a great time to increase your seafood intake and watch the effect it has on your mood. Coffee Coffee is amazing. It is one of the main sources of anti-oxidants in the typical western diet. We already talked about this. Additionally it has plenty of caffeine which will help get you motivated to get out and do stuff. Taking action and getting outside can both have great positive effects on your levels of happiness.
Coffee: Coffee will also increase dopamine and serotonin transmission within a few minutes of consumption, helping you feel better right away. The next time you feel low and blue, brew yourself a strong cup of coffee and watch your mood improve.
Chocolate: Chocolate is interesting. It includes polyphenols – mood bosting chemicals that will instantly make you feel calmer and happier. The darker the chocolate the better the effect. Of course the anti-oxidants from the cocoa beans and the amazing flavor of quality dark chocolate don't hurt either.
Yogurt and Kefir: Yogurt and Kefir are an interesting food group. They work by improving our gut bacteria which in turn has a big impact on inflammation, digestion, and the immune system. Incorporating them into your diet regularly can have a very positive effect on your mood. Make sure you consume yogurt with live cultures and the less sugar in the yogurt or kefir, the better.
In addition, certain vitamins and minerals are particularly good at enhancing mood. If you feel like there's a lack of these in your system, it may be a good idea to supplement with them and see if it helps your mood.If you're deficient in magnesium for example, it can take a while to replenish this through diet alone. Taking a high-quality magnesium supplement can help you improve your mood faster.
Vitamins B6 & B12: Both of these B vitamins will make you feel better and feel more energized. They are important for the production of dopamine in your system and help in converting food into useable energy for your body. A good complex B vitamin supplement can be a great addition to your diet. Try it and see if you don't start to feel more energized and happier right away.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an important building block for dopamine as well and it gives your immune system a boost. Supplement, particularly in the winter time when it's harder to maintain adequate levels of vitamin C in the body. Of course eating plenty of fresh fruits and veggies will help as well.
Magnesium: The soils, particularly in the US are depleted of magnesium, meaning we'll get less and less of this essential mineral in the foods we eat. Magnesium is an important mineral that can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and help you sleep better. I don't have to tell you how much of an impact good sleep alone can have on your overall mood and wellbeing. Supplement with quality magnesium and see if you don't start to notice a positive difference.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: There are two types of omega fatty acids. Omega-3 and Omega-6. In a happy, healthy body, the levels of these two fatty acids will be in balance. Sadly in the western world, we tend to consume way too much omega-6 in processed foods. This imbalance has been shown to directly increase the risk and severity of depression. Boosting your omega-3 fatty acids through a supplement or by eating lots of nuts and seeds can reverse this effect and return you to your regular happy self.
Of course it isn't just about the foods and supplements you should consume. Cutting out foods that can dampen your mood is another good idea. Gluten or wheat and sugar are two substances that have been shown to increase inflammation. As already mentioned, inflammation has been shown to lower our mood and increase our chances of getting depressed. In addition most processed foods include these two ingredients along with the omega-6 fatty acids and various other chemicals and ingredients that aren't great for our health. One of the best things you can do for your mood is to cut out as much processed food as possible, replacing it with plenty of real food including fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds and nuts, fermented dairy, and seafood. Eat healthy and you'll improve both your physical and emotional health and well-being.
At first glance, it may seem that eating certain foods like lots of fresh vegetables, fresh seafood and high-quality chocolate are things that well-to-do people buy in larger numbers. You may thus be tempted to conclude that these foods are more of an indication that the people eating them lead better and happier lives because they have the disposable income to purchase these items. You may also believe that the food choices are an indication of that instead of a cause for the increased happiness. As it turns out, studies and analysis have been done to ensure that this isn't the case and that there is an actual causal relationship between certain foods and happiness.
Here's to more joy from eating the foods that truly do nourish our bodies!!
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I am a fanatic when it comes to uncovering the truths and the falsities to sound nutrition and good health. When we use a little common sense we can back up anything, yet there is always room for debate.