Good Mood Foods

  • Topic Info:

    Did you know that certain foods are extremely effective in boosting your mood and can even fight mood disorders like depression and anxiety?

    This is really important when you consider that one out of 10 Americans is taking some sort of antidepressant, and for women aged 40-59, that figure skyrockets to one out of four.

    Fortunately, there are many foods and other substances that can raise your serotonin levels naturally without having to resort to these potentially dangerous antidepressants.

    So, what are some of these foods?

    First, an overall approach is making sure your blood sugar levels are kept in check. When your blood sugar drops, it can cause not only a mood swing, but also a food swing. Some of the symptoms of low blood sugar are extreme hunger, irritability, lack of concentration, and craving carbohydrates.

    To combat this from happening, you should eat every 3-4 hours to make sure your blood sugar is balanced. You should also include some form of protein with every single meal and snack, especially in your breakfast choices, which should include at least 20 grams of protein.

    Chocolate is actually a great mood-boosting food for a number of reasons. Chocolate has many elements that are similar to the mood-boosting elements in certain psycho-active drugs (e.g., marijuana). The research on chocolate shows that with just three squares of dark chocolate, you can improve your mood almost immediately.

    Probiotics are a huge factor for your mood. In fact, it's now known that 80-90 percent of the serotonin that your body produces is made in your gut and not your brain. Researchers have coined the term "psychobiotics" to indicate that in the very near future, we may be using probiotics instead of antidepressants to impact mood disorders. Aside from supplements, some foods containing probiotics include sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and Greek yogurt.

    Omega-3s are also extremely important for regulating your mood. Research going back as many as 40 years shows that omega-3s can reduce irritability and depression, curb aggression, and enhance your learning capabilities. Some natural food choices that include high levels of omega-3s include cold-water fatty fish like salmon, sardines and anchovies, as well as things like walnuts, flax seed/oil and pasture-raised meats.

    B vitamins are a viable source for enhancing your mood, and they actually work very quickly -- within a few hours. This group of vitamins helps make the neurotransmitters that improve your memory, help you sleep at night and generally put you in a good mood. Foods containing B vitamins include dark, leafy greens like kale and spinach, as well as whole grains.

    Vitamin D has been linked to depression and improving symptoms of depression. Foods that contain high levels of vitamin D include cod liver oil, milk, eggs, and mushrooms. Making sure you're getting enough vitamin D is especially important during the winter months when SAD (seasonal affective disorder) tends to set in.

    Finally, ensuring you're drinking enough water is important for balancing your mood and improving your memory. Remember, this doesn't include tea, coffee, sports drinks or other beverages.

    Listen in as Lisa Tsakos, RHN, joins Andrea to share more about these specific mood-boosting foods, as well as why it's so important to incorporate these foods and nutrients into your daily regimen.

  • Book Title: Unjunk Your Junk Food: Healthy Alternatives to Conventional Snacks
  • Host: Andrea Donsky, RHN and Lisa Davis, MPH