Nourishing the mind: how certain foods combat low mood and elevate mental well-being.
You probably don’t know that low mood can be eaten away. It is now well established that our diet can significantly impact our mood and mental well-being.
The link between nutrition and mental health is a topic of increasing interest in the field of psychology and holistic wellness. And here, we will explore the science behind how certain foods can elevate mood and combat low feelings, and introduce the top 10 foods known for their positive effects on mental health.
Top 10 foods to fight low mood
It’s difficult to find a person who doesn’t feel better after eating chocolate. What’s in chocolate that makes you happier? Check it out:
- Theobromine that has been identified as weak stimulant and the compound contributing to chocolate’s reputed role as an aphrodisiac.
- Caffeine – by weight, dark chocolate has one to two times the amount caffeine as coffee: 80–160mg per 100g.
- 19% of the Daily Value of zinc that is needed for the sex hormones synthesis, and magnesium that strengthens the nervous system.
Be sure to buy chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content (tip: European chocolate tends to be made with high-quality cocoa).
It is now well established that our diet can significantly impact our mood.
Bananas contain tryptophan, an amino acid that plays a key role in the production of serotonin – the hormone of happiness. Bananas are also rich in potassium and B vitamins – necessities for sex hormone production, and sex hormones make your body full of life and energy.
Cheese is valued not only for its portability and long life, but also for its high content of fat, protein, calcium, and phosphorus that take a great part in the happiness hormones production.
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are so helpful in preventing mood disorders like anxiety and depression because they decrease production of adrenalin and cortisol – the hormones of stress. Omega-3 fats also help temper inflammation by protecting neurons in the brain against damage that can be done by chronic stress. This helps keep you more flexible and able to deal with everyday challenges.
Meat is the main source of building blocks – amino acids phenylalanine, tyrosine and tryptophan – for the hormones of happiness dopamine and serotonin:
- Dopamine can be synthesized indirectly from the essential amino acid phenylalanine or directly from the non-essential amino acid tyrosine. These amino acids are found in nearly every protein and so are readily available from many foods.
- Serotonin: amino acid tryptophan is responsible for the synthesis of it.
It is a treasure chest full of essential amino acids, minerals, polyunsaturated fats and vitamins – 100 grams of almonds contain: 26mg of vitamin E (175% DV), 1mg of riboflavin (85% of Daily Value, DV), 270mg of magnesium (75% DV), 480mg of phosphorus (70% DV) 3 mg of zinc (32% DV), tryptophan, phenylalanine and many more. All these compounds play vital roles in the production of sex hormones and hormones of happiness – serotonin, endorphin and dopamine. They prevent production of the stress hormones – adrenalin and cortisol.
Throughout the ages, almond has been a symbol of fertility and well-known aphrodisiac. The aroma is thought to induce passion in a female and boost the mood. Try marzipan for a special after-dinner treat.
Eat spicy food. When capsaicin in spicy food comes in contact with receptors on your tongue, they send a signal to your brain similar to pain signal and trigger the production of endorphins.
Vegetables that contain chromium, such as onions, romaine lettuce and tomatoes increase serotonin production. A few study found that people with atypical depression (a pattern of tiredness and mood dips throughout the day) showed improvement after taking chromium supplements for eight weeks. Eating whole foods rich in chromium is an even better way to get this mood-boosting nutrient.
Fermented dairy products
Plain and simple, fermented foods like natural yogurt and kefir, help take care of your intestinal micro biome. They prevent constipation that leads to the intoxication of your body, low mood and even depression. Good bacteria help digest food, keep you healthy and improve your mood. Introducing more “good bugs,” like the ones found in can help maintain an optimal balance of cultures in your gut.
Dark leafy greens
Foods such as kale, chard and spinach contain a powerhouse of mood-enhancing nutrients. This impressive list includes magnesium, folate and vitamin B6, all of which are closely associated with lower incidence of depression and a more balanced stress response.