Foods to Boost Your Mood
When confronted with the all too common question “What are you in the mood to eat?” we may instantly gravitate towards the familiar options our taste buds enjoy most. However, when making that final meal decision, could our mind be the one calling the shots? When considering emotional health and what we eat, there may be a connection worth exploring.
Studies have been conducted that show a link between certain nutrition deficiencies and depression. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to those suffering from depression, specifically individuals with seasonal affective disorder. Lack of sun exposure and low intake of vitamin D enriched foods can result in symptoms of a depressed mood, and are more likely to subside once sunnier months roll around. Consuming high amounts of processed and sugary foods also shows a link to depression as these foods can make one feel sluggish and unmotivated. While there is no concrete evidence that a diet can prevent or treat depression, various foods can act as mood boosters and be of help when combined with other therapies.
Foods that may improve your mood include:
Nuts and Seeds: The relationship between nuts and cognitive health is growing stronger. Brazil nuts, cashews, and sunflower seeds are all excellent sources of selenium, which has been linked to mood. Other nuts such as walnuts contain antioxidants as well as omega-3 fatty acids, which play a role in cognitive health.
Fish and Seafood: Fish and seafood have been linked with brain health as they also have a high content of omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming fish such as salmon and halibut are also a great option for lean protein.
Turmeric: This spice contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that align with brain health and cognition.
Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates have been linked to the release of serotonin, which is the chemical in the brain that contributes to the feeling of happiness and well-being. Choose high quality carbs such as fruits and whole grains while limiting refined, sugary carbs such as cakes, cookies and pastries.
Vegetables: Dark leafy greens contain B vitamins that are important for brain health. These vitamins (B-1, 2,3,6,9 and 12) boost the production of neurotransmitters. A deficiency in this nutrient could lead to cognitive decline overtime. Many foods are fortified with B vitamins such as whole grains, fruits, beans and vegetables.
Food for Thought: An overall nutritious diet coupled with the necessary therapies can be a sound way to manage the symptoms of depression. When you feed your body nutrient-rich foods, it will likely respond with more energy and motivation compared to consuming foods that make you feel weighed down emotionally and physically. Incorporating nutritious options such as whole grains, fruits, veggies, lean proteins, nuts and beans will act as a helping hand in the management of depression. Learn more about healthy eating and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.
Written by: Caroline Guilford, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern.