What to eat to feel happy?
These 8 healthy food groups will lift your mood every day!
Sounds strange, yeah? How come eating has anything to do with our mood?
Well, there’s a new research field that I’ve just learned about called nutritional psychiatry, which studies our gut and brain connection. It turns out that the food we eat every day not only impacts our physical health but also our mental well-being. You may not notice but we have all experienced the connection between our mood and the food that we eat on a daily basis. For example, some of us crave sweet food like ice cream, chocolate, or cakes when we feel down.
Interestingly, from what I read, our brain and our gut connect with each other through a nerve called the vagus nerve. This nerve will directly send signals from the gut to the brain and vice versa. Thus, when we digest food in our stomach, our brain can actually feel it, too.
That is why when we eat healthy food, our brain will have good energy and spirit. On the other hand, eating spicy or fried food usually makes us feel uneasy afterward. Scientists have also started to experiment with different food groups in treating patients with depression or paranoia.
These are the nutrition and food that are proven to be very good at mood-lifting:
Fish are rich in Omega-3, a good source of fat that our body cannot produce on its own. Omega-3 is also proven to boost brain activities. When our body has enough Omega-3, we tend to worry less and feel more productive.
- Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is the almost-perfect food. It has sugar, caffeine, theobromine, and N-acylethanolamine. That explains why we always feel so hyped after eating a bar of chocolate. Besides, dark chocolate also increases blood flow to your brain, reduces inflammation, and boosts brain health, all of which may support mood regulation.
- Fermented food
Fermented food such as kimchi, yogurt, kombucha, or kefir (a fermented milk popular in Russia and central Asia) is very beneficial for your stomach and brain, as it has probiotics. These microorganisms support the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut and increase serotonin levels, which is the key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness.
My favorite fruit! Banana is rich in vitamins, especially vitamin B6, as well as dopamine and serotonin. Besides, bananas are also a good source of fiber and sugar, so whenever you feel down, you can eat a banana to increase the blood sugar level and stabilize your mood.
Eating oats for breakfast provides us with enough fiber and energy for the whole day. Oats help to slow your digestion of carbs, allowing for a gradual release of sugar into the bloodstream to keep your energy levels stable. This helps our bodies avoid sugar crash, which is a sudden drop in our blood’s sugar level, making us tired and bad-tempered.
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries,…are all high in antioxidants, helping our bodies regulate the hormonal level and reduce stress. Berries are the perfect fruits for those studying for exams, so be sure to include this in your daily meal!
- Nuts and seeds
Almonds, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts, as well as pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds are high in protein, good fat, and fiber, which helps our brains concentrate better and lower stress levels.
Coffee is the most popular drink in the world for a good reason. The caffeine in coffee prevents a naturally occurring compound called adenosine from attaching to brain receptors that promote tiredness, therefore increasing alertness and attention. Coffee also boosts dopamine and norepinephrine production, which increase our feeling of happiness.
Cover photo: DOSE
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