The power of nutrition to improve mood
Depression is a serious mental illness that affects millions of people worldwide. There are several approaches to treating depression, including therapy, medication and lifestyle changes. One interesting and natural way to improve mood and reduce depression is through proper nutrition.
Depressive symptoms can be varied, from persistent sadness and hopelessness to sleep disturbances, changes in appetite and lack of energy. While it is important to seek professional medical help, proper nutrition can also play an important role in improving mood and reducing depression. Here are some foods that are known to be natural mood boosters because of their nutrients and properties:
Fish – omega-3 fatty acids for brain health
Fish, especially fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and herring, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, called essential fats, which are important for brain health. Omega-3 fatty acids are responsible for the production of serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter known as the “happy hormone” that positively affects mood.
Studies have shown that people who regularly eat fish or take supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids have a lower risk of developing depression. It is recommended to consume oily fish two to three times a week to reap the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.
Legumes – protein and fiber for sustained energy
Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and black beans are rich in plant-based protein and fiber, which can help keep blood sugar levels stable and provide the body with a constant source of energy. This can help reduce fluctuations in energy levels and stabilize mood. In addition, legumes are rich in B vitamins such as folic acid and vitamin B6, which are important for the production of neurotransmitters in the brain and can regulate mood.
Nuts and seeds – vitamin E and magnesium for brain health
Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and chia seeds, are rich in important nutrients that can support brain health. Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant found in nuts and seeds, may help reduce inflammation in the brain and improve cognitive abilities.
Magnesium, a mineral found in many nuts and seeds, may also help regulate mood as it is involved in the production of neurotransmitters. In addition, nuts and seeds are also a good source of healthy fats, which are critical for maintaining optimal brain function.
Dark chocolate – indulgence with mood enhancers
Good news for chocolate lovers! Dark chocolate, preferably with a high cocoa content of at least 70%, contains various compounds that have been shown to improve mood. For example, dark chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), a compound that stimulates the production of endorphins, the so-called “happy hormones,” in the brain. Dark chocolate also contains flavonoids, powerful antioxidants that have been shown to improve brain function and reduce inflammation. Chocolate should be enjoyed in moderation, however, as it can also be high in sugar and calories.
Fruits and vegetables – vitamins and antioxidants for a healthy mind
A balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables is not only good for overall health, but can also have a positive impact on mood. Fruits and vegetables are rich in various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are important for optimal brain function.
For example, the vitamin C found in citrus fruits and peppers is known for its antioxidant properties and can boost the production of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which can improve mood. Leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale are rich in folic acid, a B vitamin that contributes to the production of serotonin, the so-called “happy hormone.”
Probiotic foods – intestinal health for a healthy psyche
Healthy gut flora can also have an impact on mood, as the gut is often referred to as the “second brain.” Probiotic foods such as yogurt, pickled cabbage and kefir contain live strains of bacteria that can promote gut health. Healthy gut flora can help regulate the production of neurotransmitters in the brain, which in turn can affect mood.
A healthy gut is also important for optimal absorption of nutrients, including vitamins and minerals that are important for brain function. However, not all probiotic foods are created equal, and the effect of probiotic bacterial strains on mood needs further study.
Bottom line: a balanced diet for better mood
Choosing the right foods can have a big impact on our mood and our ability to naturally reduce depression. By focusing on foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, antioxidants, tryptophan and probiotics, we can support our emotional health and boost our mood naturally.
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3976923/ ↩
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- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5641835/ ↩