It’s a known fact that fast foods are harmful to your health. It has been well documented and has been explained a lot. But you might be surprised to know that eating the wrong food might affect your mood severely. Recent researches have shown that the food you eat adversely affects your mood and it is necessary to eat foods which have certain nutrients which are called “happy nutrients” to lead a healthy and happy life. Turns out our fast-food diet, with all those processed chemicals and hardly any nutrients, throws off our body’s feel-good chemistry. Drew Ramsey, M.D., co-author of “The Happiness Diet”, says that eating the wrong foods can add to our daily stress and make us feel anxious, lethargic, and downright grouchy. What’s worse, a diet that deprives our brains of much-needed “happy” nutrients also makes us fat. When you’re stressed out, you’re more likely to reach for high-calorie junk foods that pack on the pounds, fueling a never-ending unhappiness cycle that goes like this: You eat bad, then you feel bad, so you eat worse, and then you feel even worse.
There is no such thing as food which gives instant happiness but certain foods have the tendency to give a positive vibe which might have a positive effect on our mood. Imagine a pleasant day, a plate with bright green spinach topped with caramel-colored crunchy nuts, dried fruits and a generous serving of chocolate syrup garnished on top. Immediately you feel a sense of happiness. You start feeling light. Food has such positive effects on your brain. Your favorite food can keep you happy. Omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, tryptophan, folate and other B vitamins, low glycemic foods, and chocolate have all been studied to assess their impact on mood. These foods are part of a healthy diet and when you have a healthy diet you feel about your body and confident that your food is not going to affect your body. This ultimately has a positive impact on your mood.
Chocolates are the most common happy foods. They have a very strong effect but the happiness is short lived. But if you want to feel good most of the time rather than in short bursts, then you need to build up your neurotransmitter levels in your brain. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals that send and receive information around the brain and body. One of the best ways of doing this is to ensure that you have enough folate in your diet. A diet with plenty of dark green leafy vegetables, Brussels sprouts, endives, spinach and silver beet provides plenty of folate. Folate is killed by heat, so it’s important that the vegetables aren’t cooked too much. To improve your overall mood, you need to work on improving your serotonin levels. Anyone affected by seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, will be low on serotonin. Walnuts and Lentils are high serotonin foods. The food which has highest degree of happiness in them is fish, especially salmon. Salmon is packed with vitamins D and B12 as well as omega-3 fatty acids. And it is also good for boosting your serotonin levels, helping to fight off depression and lift your mood. Another common “happy food” is banana. Eating bananas boosts the dopamine levels in your brain, which reduces depression. They are also high in vitamin B6 and magnesium. Foods high in magnesium and B6 help you make GABA, the neurotransmitter that calms people down. People who don’t have enough GABA are anxious and tend to be less happy.
The Foods to Avoid
Most people suffer from hypertension and increased sugar levels because of their depression which is caused by work pressure. But researches show that the food you eat can also negatively impact your life in general your mood in particular. It is important to avoid certain depressing foods. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. If you have a history of a mood disorder, proceed with extreme caution. Your central nervous system is responsible for taking in information through the senses, controlling motor function, as well as thinking, understanding, and reasoning. It also controls emotion. Alcohol slows all this down, exacerbating symptoms associated with depression.
According to some experts, even a modest amount of caffeine can contribute to depression and anxiety. Caffeine disrupts sleep, making it more difficult to fall asleep and to stay asleep; those disturbances affect mood. It can cause agitation, tremors, and nervousness. Energy drinks, particularly, are bad news as some of them contain the caffeine equivalent of 14 cans of soda. Anything that is cooked with hydrogenated oils and contains trans-fats could potentially contribute to depression. Also watch out for saturated fats, found in animal products such as high-fat dairy, butter, etc. They can clog arteries and prevent blood flow to the brain.
Think before you Eat!
The next time you sit down to eat, before filling your plate think whether you deserve happiness. If you feel you deserve happiness then avoid those which are likely to depress you. Keep your food habits clean. Keep your stomach happy and it will automatically keep your mind happy and stress free!