Mood Foods: Foods That Affect Your Mood

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You can create the right mood within yourself by eating specific foods, and avoiding others. That is because when you eat well, your body produces natural hormones that make you feel good. For instance, serotonin is a chemical created by the brain that is a neurotransmitter (allows messages to pass back and forth in the brain) that curbs hunger and boosts a positive mood. Dopamine is another chemical produced by the brain, and this one is a pleasure reward. Some foods are particularly good at combating certain mental problems.

Stress: Stress kills, but there are ways you can naturally reduce your stress levels by eating certain foods. Chocolate is not only good for your heart (the darker the better), but by consuming it regularly, it reduces stress hormones, including cortisol, which is a naturally steroid that your body creates to deal with stress, but it also decreases bone formation and suppresses the immune system. Chocolate also contains anandamide, a neurotransmitter that blocks pain and depression.

To give your mood a boost carbohydrates are essential, but carbs are something that gluten-intolerant people might not be getting much of. Gluten-based foods account for most carbs, but not all of them. People who cut carbs out of their diet entirely are more likely to become depressed. The key to getting carbs to work the most for you is to eat them without proteins or fats. Proteins and fats suppress the amino acids in carbs that turn into serotonin.

Another way to tackle depression with food is to eat a diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables, which are rich in anti-oxidants, and fish, because of the omega-3s. There is something about those two things that help stave off depression. Omega-3s also have serotonin, as well as dopamine. Omega-3s also help with good brain health.

Bananas are great for your mood. They also contain dopamine, are rich in B vitamins, including B6, which helps calm a person, and magnesium, which helps boost positive moods. Swiss Chard (and some other leafy greens) also contains magnesium. Magnesium has so many health benefits it would require an article just to deal with some of them. Bananas also contain tryptophan, which is converted to serotonin by the B6, which not only helps create a positive mood, but also helps you sleep. Tryptophan is also found in chocolate, oats, asparagus, dried dates, yoghurt, meat, fish eggs, poultry, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, chic peas and peanuts.

Selenium is a mineral that helps prevent irritability, anxiety, tiredness and depression. It can be found in Brazil nuts, oats, tuna, sunflower seeds, whole wheat bread, pork, beef, lamb, chicken and turkey, as well as some mushrooms.

For women who suffer through PMS, saffron has shown in studies that it reduces the symptoms of the menstrual cycle by at least half, particularly mood swings and depression.

Cognitive Functions: Caffeine is my personal wonder drug, and I could not imagine starting my day without at least two cups of coffee. Studies show that black, green, or oolang teas are excellent at improving focus. These three types of tea contain amino acids that, when combined with caffeine, work together to boost attention span. Coffee has several neurotransmitters that seem to work with mood, reducing the odds of suicide by half (according to studies). Coffee also causes your brain to release BDNF, which helps with brain health.

Oysters have a reputation as being an aphrodisiac, and that reputation is not without merit. Oysters also contain selenium, as well as zinc, which boost energy levels and help with good brain health, as well as an amino acid called tyrosine. The brain uses tyrosine to produce chemicals that enhance mental functions and improve mood.

Mussels are rich in vitamin B12 (as are eggs, cheese, milk, meat, poultry, and fish), which are important for retaining good brain health. The B12 helps preserve the myelin sheath, which insulates brain cells. This will help keep you sharp as you get older. Mussels also contain zinc, selenium, and iodine, which are vital to regulating your thyroid. Farmed mussels are better than wild ones.

Purple berries have their dark colour because they contain anthocyanins, an anti-oxidant that helps the brain produce dopamine, which is critical for coordination, memory, and moods. Blue potatoes also contain anthocyanin.

The skin of a tomato contains lycopene, which is a fat-soluble phytonutrient (plant-based chemical that is good for human health) that protects the brain fat and stops the buildup of compounds that cause inflammation that is linked with depression. Because it is in the skin, cherry tomatoes will give you more of lycopene.

Foods to Avoid: Nitrates can cause migraines and tension, and there are studies that show a link to cancer. They are found in processed meats, like hot dogs, and in some fruits & vegetables, though the natural kind seems to be beneficial to your health, according to studies done. The reason nitrates are used in processed meats is to prevent bacteria from growing and to keep fats from going rancid. When those nitrates are brought to a high heat, they form nitrosamines, which are a known carcinogen.

Processed sugars should be avoided at all costs. Numerous studies show a link between sugar and unhealthy levels of blood fat. It can lead to dyslipidemia, which include higher triglycerides and lower HDLs (the good cholesterol), which creates a high risk factor for heart disease.

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