Can food boost your mood?
Absolutely, especially if these are foods which increase the feel-good hormone serotonin in the brain or can help decrease cortisol, our stress hormone. The 6 feel-good fuel sources to boost your mood that we are talking about are complex carbohydrates, omega three fatty acids, dark chocolate and foods containing folate or vitamin D and water.
Food can alter brain chemistry and when it comes to the top choice, it’s the infamous complex carbohydrate. Studies going back to MIT and Judith Wurtman’s work found that carbohydrates such as potatoes, rice, pasta and pretzels could increase the feel good hormone serotonin in the human brain. So carbs, particularly complex carbs are good especially at lunch to be able to get through an afternoon slump.
The compounds in dark chocolate (at least 70% dark cocoa) are chemicals which help boost mood. (These are called theobromine and phenylethyamine.) Eating just 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate a day can decrease the stress hormone cortisol in the body and increase serotonin.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 Fatty Acids can help alleviate depression especially when it comes from fatty cold water fish such as salmon, trout, barramundi, herring, sardines or tuna. Some of the best sources of omegas can be found in canned salmon, which also contains vitamin D, another mood boosting nutrient. Besides fish, omega-3 fatty acids are plentiful in nuts and seeds. Take for example walnuts, flax and chia seeds.
Vitamin D is not found in too many foods, it is in Vitamin D fortified milk, fortified plant based milks such as soy, almond and flax milks, and can be found in eggs. But the best way to get vitamin D is through sun light exposure, getting outside for a good 15 -20 minutes on a sunny day will not only bank up lost vitamin D but also boost your mood!
Folate is a micro-nutrient from the Vitamin B family. It is found in dark leafy greens and legumes such as lentils. Getting enough folate has been linked to decreased levels of depression.
We often go about our day just drinking tea or coffee and not getting enough fluids in general. Women need about 9 cups of water a day and men 11 cups. Dehydration can make us feel tired. So remember to have a bottle water in the car and one at your desk as a great reminder to energize with water.
For more staying power after lunch, try having a lunch which not only includes a complex carbohydrate with at least 5 grams of fiber, but 14 grams (2 ounces) of protein as well.
2 -4 ounces Salmon with whole wheat couscous and a dark green salad with grapes
6 ounces Greek Yogurt with 1 Tbsp honey, 2 Tbsp chia or flax seeds, berries and 1 oz walnuts
2 Omega-3 Fatty Acid eggs & tomato on a whole grain bagel
Avocado on high-fiber toast, fruit and 1 cup almond milk
1- 1.5 ounces dark chocolate for dessert
What’s in your lunchbox?
Food helps to keep your mood steady throughout the day and even week. From an ounce of chocolate to a liter or two of water, nutrition factors can maximize your mood.
Proud to offer: Fuel Up Cooking Events, counseling sessions, consulting contracts, leadership workshops, keynote or wellness event for you, your teams or your company.
I look forward to hearing from you! ~ Emma