The food that you eat significantly affects your overall health, and the physical and mental benefits of eating right are sometimes underestimated by people. What you decide to consume can affect how you feel in both the short and long-term and coffee is a good example of the mood-boosting properties of specific foods or drinks that most people are aware of. This article will share some wholesome dietary choices with you so that you can include them into your daily routine and take advantage of these benefits.
Unlike its close relative, milk chocolate, dark chocolate can be a very healthy choice if consumed in moderation. It can be high in calories but compared to milk chocolate, the dark variety typically contains less added sugar and fat.
Aside from sugar and caffeine, dark chocolate has the alkaloid theobromine, flavanols, and fatty acids that can help improve your overall brain health, such as mood and cognition. Not only that, it can just be a treat to eat, and its taste and texture can give a momentary sense of enjoyment.
All types of berries can be sweet and healthy snacks that you are encouraged to eat at any time and can be served mixed and prepared in different ways, but blueberries and raspberries, in particular, are notable for their effects on the mood.
Like dark chocolate, berries contain flavonoids, but anthocyanins, which are responsible for the berries’ blue to purple hue, specifically have been linked with lower rates of depression. Of course, berries also contain vitamin C, and while it is most notable for its link with the immune system, it can help reduce fatigue, and it’s also responsible for the production of serotonin via tryptophan conversion.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy greens, such as lettuce, spinach,and kale should be a part of any balanced diet because they contain vitamins, fiber, and other nutrients that are essential for a healthy and functioning body.
One of these nutrients, folate or folic acid, is believed to be able to provide relief for depression because a deficiency of it has been linked to lower serotonin, and consequently, more symptoms of the disorder. Folate won’t cure depression, but having a diet that has includes vegetables may be helpful in providing symptomatic relief.
If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or any other disorder, it’s important to try to get help from a licensed therapist who can use techniques like cognitive-behavioral therapy, systematic desensitization therapy, interpersonal therapy, and much more to help you find long-term solutions for mental health issues.
Research suggests that fish that are full of healthy fats, like salmon, tuna, sardines, and herring, may be able to improve their mood and fight off symptoms of depression.
These fats are known as Omega-3s, and fish are rich in two of them: EPA and DHA. Along with the brain benefits it can provide, omega 3 fatty acids are also good for your cardiovascular system and can reduce inflammation. If fish is too expensive to consume consistently or not readily available in your area, you can use fish oil supplements, but it’s always recommended to get your nutrition directly from the food source.
Last but not least, fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut are excellent choices to improve your mood for a unique reason – probiotics. Probiotics promote healthy bacteria in your gut and this leads to an improved digestive tract.
Why is this important for your mental health? It’s due to the gut-brain connection, which suggests that your mood and cognition is linked to your gut health. In fact, the majority of your serotonin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, and if you’re deficient this can have a negative impact on your mood and cause depression.
Although these are some specific foods that may be able to help you feel happier and more energetic, an improved diet that consists of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs, nutrients like vitamins (especially the B kinds), minerals, and amino acids should make you feel better in the long run. It may also help you lose weight, which can also have a positive effect on your mood, especially your self-esteem. What you eat matters and hopefully, you can make the necessary changes you need to live a happier and healthier life.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.