Recently, there has been heightened awareness regarding the quality of our food and how it affects our body, including GMOs, allergens, antibiotics and more. Regardless of where you stand on such issues, what you put in your mouth does in fact matter – you can control your overall health and mental wellbeing. Studies have shown that long-term exposure to an unhealthy diet can increase your chances of depression, not to mention a handful of other serious diseases such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Those who make positive diet improvements see positive changes in their overall mood and health.
Before we explore what foods help feed your brain and boost your mood, we need to first understand the cause-and-effect relationship between food and mood. It's scientific fact that our brain chemicals influence the way we think, feel, and behave. It's also proven that low levels of certain vitamins, or an over-consumption of certain foods can lead to negative health issues. Therefore, wouldn't it be safe to say what we eat directly affects our mood and overall health?
A lack of vitamins or mass consumptions of certain foods have negative effects on your body; here are just a few examples:
- Fluctuations in blood sugar levels are associated with changes in mood and energy.
- Abnormal brain reactions can occur due to artificial chemicals in foods, such as dyes or flavorings.
- Low levels of vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids can affect mental health increasing the risk of depression.
- A lack of fiber speeds up sugar absorption into the bloodstream, which increases mood swings.
In addition, simply knowing you are taking care of yourself can help boost your mood.
Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, found in fish, help protect against depression and boost your mood. B6 and B12 present in fish also aids against depression.
2-3. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are great sources of vitamin E, which protects against premature brain aging. Also, nuts and seeds provide B6 vitamins aiding against depression.
Avocados contain healthy fatty acids, which help lower blood pressure, contributing to healthy blood flow, therefore, promoting proper brain health.
5-7: Leafy greens, broccoli, and asparagus
These foods contain a significant amount of foliate and vitamin K; both are necessary to maintain proper brain function, slow down the effects of aging, and help fight depression.
Our bodies are made up of approximately 70% water. Every system, including your brain, is dependent on you replenishing that water daily. A lack of water causes a number of systems including headaches, depression, memory loss, reduced clarity and focus and sleep issues.
Blueberries have been shown to help protect the brain from stress, improve learning capacity and motor skills and reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's.
10. Dark chocolate
While everything should be eaten in moderation, dark chocolate contains powerful antioxidant properties and a handful of natural stimulants, including caffeine, which has been shown to improve your mood and enhance focus and concentration.
Promoting proper brain health and mood is more than just eating the right types of food. Here are a few basic nutrition strategies that can help maximize your proper food intake.
- Eat often so your body has a continuous source of fuel.
- Do not skip meals to avoid yourself from getting too hungry.
- Avoid bad-mood culprits such as candy, soda, syrups, and refined white starches (white rice, crackers, white bread).
- Steer clear of alcohol, as it's a depressant and disrupts sleep.
There's a clear relationship between the food you eat, your mood, and overall state of mind. When you combine basic nutrition strategies with proper nutrition, you create a positive effect on your wellbeing and a holistic approach to mental wellness.
Karly Peters is a life coach, blogger, speaker, and wellness consultant. She's passionately devoted to helping others claim their inner-power, live their true purpose and walk a path of wellness. She's inspired countless people to take charge of their health and happiness, improve lifestyle practices and learn to lead a life they love! For more information on Karly's services, wellness tips, or to access her weekly blog, please visit karlyjpeters.com.