Ever thought about how food can affect how you feel and behave? Think about thanksgiving, that hearty meal that leaves you as sleepy as a dose of valium. Or think about a cup of mocha latte, there’s nothing like a foamy cup containing 2 caffeine saturated drinks, is there? And when you are feeling low, because of frustrating reasons like you run out of cash or you have exams, you don’t reach out for a bowl of spinach, do u ? You just grab a chocolate, because that is what makes you feel good.
Certain foods have mind-altering effects on you, which is why we crave for different foods in different situations or moods of our life. Some foods make us feel content, calm, happy or boosts our spirits, whereas some foods make us aggressive, sad or lazy.
It is still difficult to classify foods which influence your moods. So here is a simple list of foods that may boost or bust your mood, without filling you out.
Edible pick-ups for boosting your mood:
Berries like blueberries, purple- berries, are loaded with vitamin -C, which acts as a great stressbuster. These berries also have anthocyanins, which are a type of antioxidants which uplift your mood and memory functions.
Cottage cheese has tryptophan, which is a sleep inducing amino acid, that relaxes entire body and mind and helps to remove restlessness. You can also find tryptophan in soymilk, tofu and lentils.
When you put a piece of chocolate in your mouth, it melts on your tongue and you can literally feel stress leave you and bliss greet you. Chocolate is a joy stimulant. Cocoa boosts brain serotonin levels, which acts as an anti-depressant. Chocolates also have a neurotransmitter that temporarily blocks feelings of pain and depression. This is why chocolate has been referred to as the new anti anxiety drug. Also, eating dark chocolate reduces stress hormones specially cortisol. When you do indulge in chocolate for busting your stress, make sure you have 1.4 ounces of it.
A high quality source of protein- like organic eggs, a piece of Gouda cheese or almonds- can keep your blood sugar levels at bay along with enhanced energy and mood.
Banana has vitamin B, specially B6 and magnesium which soothes the nervous system. It also has dopamine, which is a great mood booster, and induces feelings of happiness in the mind.
Coffee affects our general sense of well-being and improves brain health due to release of a chemical substance called BNDF, which also helps in synthesis of neurons( brain cells).
Eating fishes like salmon, tuna, sardines, rainbow trout will provide you omega-3-fatty acids, which are very good for our health, and specially, heart. Omega 3 fatty acids alter brain chemicals, which are linked with mood, like serotonin and dopamine, which decrease depression, aggression and give a feeling of happiness.
Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of saffron crocus. It has long been used in the treatment of PMS symptoms, like mood swings and depression. Now saffron has proved to be a potential anti-depressant , by helping to make the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin available to the brain.
When you are stressed, the smell of coconut may blunt your adrenaline response, by slowing your heart rate. The scent of coconut lowers our blood pressure and enhances alertness and soothes our response to stress.
Just as foods can uplift your mood, they can also bring it down. Eating a lot of spicy foods can make you mad at little things as they heat up your body. Here’s a list of foods that trigger a negative mood.
Mood busting foods to avoid-
Abnormal sugar intake can lead to fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which can cause mood swings. Sugar causes insulin and leptin resistance and impaired signalling. Sugar also suppresses activity of BNDF, which deteriorates brains health by stopping synthesis of neurons. Also, sugar triggers a chain of chemical reactions which promote chronic inflammation.
Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, rye etc. and it negatively impacts mood and brain health. It can promote depression and have detrimental effect on our brain.
Apart from sugar and gluten, food may also have trans fats, artificial colors, monosodium glutamate (MSG), artificial sweeteners, and synthetic ingredients, which cause irritability and poor mood.The list of potentially mood busting ingredients is a long one.
So basically, the science of food’s effect on mood is based on the changes it can bring to our brain structure(chemically and physiologically), which can lead to altered behavior. To sum up, foods can have immense impact on your brain and body, and having balanced meals with all kinds of nutrients is the best way to support your mental and physical health. But if you are in a bad mood, you should look into your kitchen or fridge for countering it, instead of your medicine box.