Please enjoy today’s article from Elaina Love, author of three recipe books and founder of Pure Joy Planet and Pure Joy Academy as the guest columnist every Friday in the Journey Back to Self Blog. ~ Chris
Can what you eat significantly affect your mood?
Yes, according to a recent survey conducted by members of the London-based Food and Mood Project. After surveying 200 people suffering from a variety of mental health problems during a one-year period, nutritional therapist Amanda Geary found that more than one-third of the participants experienced significant improvements when they ate or avoided particular foods. Participants who suffered from anxiety, panic attacks, and mood swings had the greatest improvements in mood, after incorporating more “supporters” (foods that help sustain good moods) and eliminating identified “stressors” (foods that drag down moods) from their diets. Those struggling with depression reported the second-highest shift in behavior when eating similar diets. According to the report, mood supporters include fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, oil-rich fish, and high protein foods- all of which keep blood sugar levels steady. Geary also discovered that eating regularly and not skipping breakfast, as well as drinking more water, had a beneficial effect on moods. Food stressors, on the other hand, include alcohol and chocolate, and for about 80 percent of study participants, sugar and caffeine have the worst effect on blood sugar levels and thus foster foul moods and anxiety.
In my research as well as my own personal experience, I have found that foods high in Omega 3s, Vitamin D and B-vitamins to be the most significant in improving my energy and moods, especially depression. These 3 also happen to be nutrients that most people are lacking. In fact, 80% of the population tested are low in Omega 3s. Here are some ways to increase your nutrition and improve your mood:
Eat Feel-Good Foods
Avocados, beans, green leafy vegetables: Create energy and relieve depression-High in healthy fats and Omega 3s.
Bananas: Calm the mind (eat in moderation as they are high glycemic)
Berries: Help avoid depression- by eating anti-oxidant rich berries which also happen to be low glycemic, you will satisfy your sweet cravings without spiking your blood sugar which can cause mood swings and depression. Berries are a perfect summer snack and are portable- great to have for breakfast or in a smoothie
Broccoli, sweet potatoes, oranges, peaches: Clear the mind- They contain minerals such as iron, manganese and potassium, which counter anemia. Anemia (common among young women) causes weariness, affecting physical as well as the mental health.
Green Smoothies: Balance blood sugar and energy levels. Blend some mineral rich spinach with some low glycemic berries. The folic acid in spinach helps ward off depression too.
Mushrooms exposed to UV light: According to Dr. Oz, purchasing mushrooms which have been left under a UV light helps the mushrooms to be Vitamin D rich (100% RDA). Vitamin D helps ward off stress and depression, and help to regulate neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin, melatonin and dopamine. These all have a profound impact on mood. Always cook mushrooms before eating. I suggest cooking in coconut oil.
Omega-3 fatty acids (found in walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, pinto beans and blue-green algaes): Prevent the blues and feed the brain.
Salmon: High in Omega 3s-Reduces mood swings and depression, calming
Water: Boost energy, hydrating
Whole grains, herbal teas: Ward off stress
Foods to avoid: High glycemic foods such as white sugar, agave, white flour, white potatoes, processed foods such as breakfast cereals and white rice can create insulin spikes which can cause depression and mood swings. So if you are craving sweets, it’s best to sweeten with stevia or go for low glycemic fruits such as berries, apples and grapefruits sprinkled with some Omega 3 rich ground flax or chia seeds.
Experiencing emotions is a normal part of life, however your moods may be tied to something you just ate! So the next time you feel a doom or gloom coming on, before reaching for an over the counter or prescription drug, take inventory of what you ate (or didn’t eat) in the past few hours (a food diary is helpful) and try adding or eliminating some of the foods I mentioned to your diet. Simply choosing the right foods can have a major impact on your mood and your overall health and well-being.
Bringing Pure Joy and Gourmet Bliss to the Planet,
Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and Google+.