Eat happy! Foods that boost your mood
Life can sometimes be a struggle, but coping with the ups and downs can be easier when your mood is as stable as possible. So in addition to getting enough sleep, making exercise part of your daily routine, and finding healthy ways to deal with stress, try eating foods that will boost your mood.
We don’t mean chowing down on a chocolate bar because satisfying that sweet craving makes you momentarily happy. We mean choosing healthy foods that studies have shown may be able to help stabilize your mood by providing nutrients that your brain needs to perform at its best.1
According to Genomind2, serotonin, a substance our body produces naturally, helps to regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain. Ninety-five percent of serotonin is produced in our gastrointestinal tract, which means that not only does our digestive systems help us digest food, but it also guides our emotions. So what you put in your stomach every day really can help determine how you feel both mentally and physically.
Obviously eating a chocolate bar every now and then is okay—everything in moderation, after all. But in addition to managing your stress, getting enough sleep, and getting regular exercise, if you want to try to boost your mood using healthy foods, which can help make you more resilient in the face of life’s challenges, try these suggestions from WebMD.3
- Eat more foods with omega-3 fatty acids. Fish and foods rich in omega 3s like flaxseed, canola oil, cauliflower, red kidney beans, and broccoli, are a good choice. Research has shown that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may be mood stabilizers, and can play a role in mental well-being.
- Eat more selenium-rich foods. Low selenium intake is linked to poorer moods, so put brazil nuts, oysters, albacore tuna, clams, sardines, pork tenderloin, crab, saltwater and freshwater fist, whole wheat and regular pastas, lean pork chops, chicken, lean lamb, sunflower seeds, whole wheat bread, plain bagels, brown rice, oatmeal, flour tortillas, soynuts, eggs, low-fat cottage cheese, tofu, pinto beans and low-fat yogurt on your menu!
- Try a Mediterranean diet. It’s actually not a “diet” at all – it’s simply a fresh and healthy eating pattern that includes plenty of fruits, nuts, vegetables, cereals, legumes and fish. These foods are important sources of nutrients that are linked to preventing depression, particularly folate and B-12. For more information on the Mediterranean diet, including recipes, visit WebMD, and the Mayo Clinic.
- Cut back on caffeine. For those who are sensitive to it, caffeine may make depression worse. It can also keep you awake at night, and lack of sleep can impact your mood, so try limiting or even eliminating caffeine for a month or so and see if you notice a difference in the way you feel.
Remember, changing up your diet is a good way to try to help stabilize your moods, but if you’ve noticed that your moods or emotions are extreme, you’re feeling constantly anxious or overwhelmed, or you’re having difficulty functioning the way you once used to, you should talk to your doctor about the possibility of seeing a therapist. The sooner you seek help, the faster you’ll feel better and get back to enjoying your life.
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