The old adage runs that “you are what you eat”. It’s true though that you food you consume has a huge effect on your health, your energy, your appearance and your body’s chemistry. It also has a massive impact on how you feel.
So what are the foods that will boost your mood, and what are the ones that will make you grouchy? We’ve listed 5 of the former, 3 of the latter.
1. Dark Chocolate
Straight in there with the chocs! There’s a reason why chocolate always seems to make things better. Consumption of the dark variety causes the brain to release endorphins which boost our serotonin levels. A recent study that was taken over just 2 weeks showed that in a mixed group of people, those who had been eating dark chocolate produced less stress hormones and their anxiety levels decreased.
To reap the mood benefits, all you need to eat a couple of dark squares of chocolate containing 70% or more of cocoa. So you don’t necessarily need to eat the whole bar. We won’t stop you, though.
Bananas also increase serotonin levels, which make us happy and cheerful. Not only do they contain the amino acid tryptophan, but they are packed with vitamins such a Vitamin A, B6, C, potassium, phosphorous and iron. They also contain mood-boosting carbohydrates which help the absorption of tryptophan in the brain. It is vitamin B6 which allows the body to convert the tryptophan into the mood-lifting hormone serotonin (which can also aid sleep). Due to its ability to raise serotonin levels, tryptophan has been used in the treatment of a variety of mental health conditions, such as insomnia, depression and anxiety. A banana day should do the trick to get you on the up.
Spinach is packed full of the vitamins in the B family, which are crucial for mental health. Vitamin B1 is important for blood sugar control, which has a major impact on anxiety. Due to its ability to make the body deal with stress it is often referred as an “anti-stress” vitamin. Vitamin B3 is involved in many enzymatic processes and plays a key role in serotonin synthesis. Vitamin B5 is very important for the adrenals and therefore helps with modulating stress.
Just one cup of spinach provides nearly 30% of your RDA of a few B vitamins. It’s super easy to cook, and you can add it to omelettes, stir-frys, or with your salad.
Oats have a low glycaemic index (GI), which means they’re a great food for boosting your mood. They create slow energy release into the bloodstream, keepingblood sugar and mood stable (as opposed to providing a rush that dips quickly, leaving you feeling more irritable). Oats also contain the mood-boosting mineral selenium.
Why not try Amber’s overnight oats recipe? A great way to start the day.
5. Fruits & Vegetables
In a recent study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, those who ate a diet of which consisted more of fruit and vegetables when compared to sweets, fried foods and proceed and refined products were significantly less likely to feel depressed after a year. The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids in fish are not only important to keeping you healthy, but are also connected to a lower risk of depression. Folate, a B vitamin found in beans, citrus and dark green vegetables like spinach, affects neurotransmitters that impact mood.
And what about the food and drink that can put you in a bad mood?
I have to hold up my hands here, and admit I drink too much caffeine. I do find however that after drinking too much coffee, I always feel dehydrated. This isn’t just true in the short run, but also the long. Dehydration will leave you feeling irritable, jumpy and prone to withdrawal headaches.
I have to hold up my hands here, and admit I consume too much sugar. Although you experience a quick energy spurt of consuming sugar, this is always inevitably followed by an energy crash. And when I’m tired, I’m cranky. And when I’m cranky, I eat sweets. The cycle continues…
I have to hold up my hands here, and admit I drink too much alcohol. Don’t get me wrong, alcohol can definitely perk you up, but drink too much of it and not only will you have to contend with the hangover, but you’ll also be more irritable and moody in the long run.
What foods do you find give you a pick-me-up? Let us know on our Facebook page.