Most of us are in the addictive cycle of using junk foods to improve our moods. Foods and drinks such as cakes, ice creams, alcohol, coffee, chips and chocolate are easily accessible everywhere to soothe us when we’re stressed, bored or down.But it doesn’t have to be that way. The following 9 Foods to Improve Your Moods list will allow you to break this vicious cycle.
What’s actually happening when eating junk foods is our mood neurotransmitters, dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) are being stimulated artificially and actually depleting us nutritionally leading to imbalances in the body which over the short term gets you hooked in that vicious cycle of needing those junk foods for the next pick me up, and long term can lead to serious health issues, mentally and physically. Adrenal fatigue, insulin resistance, and depression are just a few of them.
So its a great idea to phase these types of food out of your diet and start replacing them with real, unprocessed whole foods that will actually feed your body the vital nutrients and enzymes it requires to manufacture our feel good hormones. FOR REAL!
Here are the 9 Foods to Improve your Mood:
1. Bananas – A banana is rich in magnesium, which reduces anxiety and improves sleep. Calming and stress-reducing, bananas also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that is converted into serotonin in the body. Because a banana contains a plethora of vitamins and minerals and is also rich in carbohydrates, natural sugars, and potassium, which help the body’s circulatory system deliver oxygen to the brain, it is a nutritious and energizing snack.
2. Dark leafy greens – such as spinach, chard, and kale—are high in folic acid, a nutrient proven to help alleviate depression and reduce fatigue. These greens also boast abundant antioxidants, which protect brain cells from the free radicals that dampen mood and drain energy. In addition, dark leafy greens are packed with magnesium, which aids sleep and enhances our ability to overcome and manage stress.
3. Walnuts – Rich in serotonin-boosting omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium, this antioxidant-rich nut is an easy on-the-go mood booster. Studies have shown that magnesium deficiency may cause depression, anxiety, irritability, and insomnia. Walnuts help stabilize mood by regulating blood sugar levels and alleviating mood swings.
4. Citrus Fruits – Vitamin C deficiency is associated with low energy, depressed mood, and irritability. Citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruit, provide an instant burst of Vitamin C and help to pump oxygen through your body and brain. Vitamin C aids in your body’s absorption of iron, a mineral vital in fighting fatigue. Alternatively you can supplement with Camu Camu – a superfood that has the highest and most absorbable Vitamin C content of any fruit. It comes in dried powder form so you easily add to your smoothie in the morning.
5. Fermented Foods – There is a very close link between our gut and our brain, with the gut often being called the second brain. If you have a healthy terrain of good gut flora you will most likely be a stable, happy human being. If our gut flora is out of whack and we have too many of the bad guys in there, we’ll be feeling pretty nasty. Depression, mood swings, anger, anxiety, teariness or irritability can all be caused by an imbalanced gut flora.
Supplementing your diet daily with fermented foods is crucial to build good gut health and maintain a healthy gut and happy mind with a varied strain of good bacteria and symbiotic yeasts. Not only do fermented foods keep you happy, they make digestion easier for you by pre-digesting proteins, fats and carbs, have many immune boosting properties, are loaded with enzymes and help your gut manufacture crucial vitamins.
6. Sunflower Seeds – Sunflower seeds are a great source of folate and magnesium, which help regulate and boost mood. Just a handful of sunflower seeds gives you half the daily recommended amount of magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is often responsible for feelings of fatigue, nervousness, and anxiety and it’s been linked to various mood disorders.
When we have optimum magnesium levels it helps us achieve a calm and relaxed state. Magnesium is beneficial in treating major depression, suicidal tendencies, anxiety, irritability, and insomnia. Sunflower seeds are a great source of tryptophan and eating them is a great way of boosting serotonin levels. They’re also rich in fiber, which helps maintain stable hormone levels, another way to keep your moods on the up side!
7. Chia Seeds – These amazing little gluten free seeds are high in essential fatty acids. The Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids in Chia seeds provide benefits for the nervous system, improving mood, concentration and depression. Plus they are loaded with fibre which also helps stabilise blood sugar levels and mood. And as well as loaded with other powerful antioxidants keeping you healthy and happy they also have plenty of protein and calcium. Soak in water for 10 minutes for a chia seed porridge, add your favourite sprinkling of nuts, seeds or fruits, almond milk and you have one nutritious breakfast!
8. Avocados – Avocados are the happy fruit. The healthy fats provided by avocados also help to improve mood and keep you feeling happy. These fruits are rich in tryptophan, along with vitamin B and folic acid, which helps the body turn tryptophan into the feel-good chemical serotonin. Avocados contain more protein, potassium, magnesium, folic acid, B vitamins, Vitamin E and vitamin K. These nutrients, along with their high content of oleic acid, make the avocado a powerful antioxidant that has been found to protect against heart disease, stroke and some forms of cancer and keep your moods on the smiley side. Include avocado in your diet by adding it to salads, sandwiches or enjoy half of one as a snack. Include these into your diet every day if you can.
9. Cacao – I love cacao! Cacao is chocolate but in its raw, unprocessed form (without sugar, dairy other nasties added to it). It contains no caffeine and has the highest antioxidant levels of any food in the world. But the added bonus is, it also contains loads of feel good hormones such as tryptophan, serotonin, and phenylethylamine (PEA’s) which is the love hormone. It also contains Anandamide which is the endorphin rush you get after exercise. Plus it contains high levels of minerals. Great to add to almond milk smoothies or to make your favourite raw chocolate dessert with.