Mental Health Awareness Month: Best & Worst Mood Food
It has been said many times: “You are what you eat.” Experience has shown this dramatic statement to be dramatically true. The foods you eat have a direct impact on your mood. Studies have shown that a healthy diet correlates with not only positive physical benefits but positive psychological benefits as well. On the contrary, junk food has been proven to propel your bad mood. Dietary changes lead to changes in our brain chemistry, structure, and physiology which can ultimately lead to changes in behavior. Here is a list of the best (and worst) foods for your mood.
Best Food for Your Mood
Woke up on the wrong side of the bed? As tempting as it may be, to craw back into bed with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s – DON’T DO IT! The relief you may get from that chocolate temptation is only temporary and can ultimately contribute to your plummeting mood. Try kick-starting your feel-good mood (and hormones) with some of these suggested foods below.
Brazil nuts are high in selenium. Selenium is a trace mineral that promotes cognitive function, healthy immune system, and fertility in both men and women. Studies have shown that selenium may reduce inflammation, boosting mood and combatting rates of depression, anxiety, irritability, and tiredness. Brazil nuts are great as a mid-morning snack or as a delicious additive to your salad or stir fry.
Fatty, oily fish such as:
- and herring
are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3-rich foods contain two specific fatty acids: Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
EPA is the most commonly known omega-3 fatty acid, reducing inflammation and contributing to synthesizing chemicals known for blood clotting.
DHA is a key component of sperm, the retina, and the cerebral cortex.
Both of these fatty acids are known for regulating neurotransmitters, reducing inflammation, decreasing the probability of developing a mood disorder, and promoting healthy cognitive function.
Oats are great mood enhancers because of their low glycaemic index (GI). In other words, oats slowly release energy into the bloodstream, which keeps blood sugar and mood stabilized. (Unlike the simple fix of a good ole sugar rush and crash.)
Oats also contain selenium and are known to reduce:
- prevent depression,
- and promote a healthy nervous system.
Try soaking your oats overnight and add some fruit. Oatmeal can be one of the best breakfast’s that are and fulfilling grab-and-go breakfast.
Who knew this delicious, thirst quenching, and light-hearted fruit can help lift midday mood crashing? Watermelon contains citrulline, an amino acid that helps open up blood vessels and boost blood flow. Opening blood pathways will ultimately encourage more clear-headed thinking and overall mood. Watermelon is scientifically proven to boost and elevate because it’s generously full of vitamin B6. The vitamin, in fact, acts as a neurotransmitter by producing serotonin in the body which leads to feeling great.
Leafy Green Veggies
Antidepressant Food rankings marked leafy greens like:
- mustard greens,
- and lettuce
at the top of the list.
Leafy green veggies are rich in
- a water-soluble B vitamin.
Low folate levels have been linked to depressive symptoms. This vitamin, found in leafy greens, may affect mood-related chemicals in the brain such as serotonin. Serotonin directly influences mood and social behavior.
Worst Food For Your Mood
Comfort foods are typically the go-to when you’re feeling mentally depleted. However, eating junk foods can be detrimental to your well-being and overall mood. Consistently indulging in bad-for-you foods has been linked to severe psychological symptoms and provoking extreme mood swings as well as inducing anxiety/depression.
Alcohol and depression have a complex and completely dysfunctional relationship. People who may unwind with a glass of alcohol may not necessarily be depressed, but the effects of long-term alcohol abuse can lead to serious health complications, depression, and full-blown alcoholism. Alcohol is a depressant that reduces serotonin, negatively impacts the nervous system, and produces hormones that directly increase feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Alternative: Limit your alcohol consumption to just a glass of red wine a week. Try gluten-free alcohol. Better yet, go alcohol-free and try a probiotic-rich, cold drink like kombucha.
Ahh – the bitter-sweetness of addictive sugar. While they may taste so delicious, addictive sugars send our minds and bodies into a crazy tailspin. Extreme rushes to depressing crashes, feelings of anxiety, anxiousness, irritability, and depression far outweigh the initial comforts of your sugar-filled favorites. Sugars may hinder your mental health — the body’s natural response to fight stress, making it difficult to relax and unwind. Side effects may include headaches, mood disorders, dizziness, irritability, and migraines.
Alternative: Natural sweeteners such as;
- local raw honey,
- and coconut sugar
are a perfect alternative to satisfy your sweet tooth – in a healthy way!
Processed meats are not limited to bologna or hotdogs but also be wary of your favorite deli turkey or chicken meat as well. These products are often packed with fillers, preservatives, sugar, and salt. Side effects may include bloating, migraines, mood swings, and even swollen ankles – oh my! A small serving of daily deli meat can increase the risk of heart disease by 42 percent and researchers have also linked a diet high in these processed meats to a greater risk of depression.
Alternative: It’s always a good idea to carefully read labels and choose deli meat brands without fillers or added nitrates, but the best way to curb your craving is to roast and carve up your own meat to add to your sandwich or salad.