Happy, angry, excited, frustrated and anxious are just some of the different moods and emotions we can have throughout the day. Some things in life bring us joy, others bring us much sadness.
But sometimes, for days on end, we feel quite down without even knowing why. Many things can affect your mood, like a promotion at work, stubbing your toe or even spilling your morning coffee. We interact with a variety of stimulants around us each day, so we end up having a variety of mood changes as well. But there’s also another major factor that can fuel our mood, and it also fuels our bodies: Food.
Have you ever considered eating to improve mood? Well, food can play a large part in how we feel. There are foods to combat stress, foods to deal with sadness, foods to boost mood and even foods that help depression. You can actually eat your way to a better, happier self. And who doesn’t enjoy eating? If you’ve been down in the dumps lately and are looking for a diet to improve mood, look no further than these 14 food suggestions.
Foods that boost your mood
When you turn to food to improve mood, a variety of food options are available, making a diet to improve mood quite possible. Here are the best foods that can help you improve your mood.
Tea has been a diet staple in many cultures for centuries. With so many varieties, it’s easy to find one to love. Tea is also a great food that boosts mood. The Journal of Nutrition noted that theanine – an amino acid found in most teas – works along with caffeine to promote alertness and improve focus. Furthermore, scientists at Unilever studied the effects of tea and concluded that drinking black tea can improve mood as well as enhance creative thinking.
Omega-3, particularly found in fish, has been renowned for its ability to improve brain function. This also makes fish one of the best foods to improve mood. Omega-3s effect our dopamine and serotonin levels – hormones which makes us happy and relaxed.
If you’re looking for food to deal with depression, also look no further than fish. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry reported that eating DHA and EPA – fatty acids found in fish – can help support health mood balance. These findings were again found in a Canadian study of individuals with mood issues who consumed EPA and DHA.
Just looking at chocolate can excite people as it is a feel-good guilty pleasure for many. No need for guilt! Skip the milk chocolate, it’s not considered a food that can boost mood. Choose darker chocolate and eat happy.
The Nestle Research Center in Switzerland uncovered that enjoying a piece of dark chocolate every day was one of the top food methods to combat stress. Dark chocolate, unlike milk or white chocolate, contains antioxidants. You only need about 1.4 ounces of the dark stuff to combat stress. So go ahead and indulge in a bite of dark chocolate each day; you can feel good about enjoying this treat as a food method to combat stress.
This tropical fruit is amazing as a food to boost mood and also as a food to combat stress. Similar to fish, coconut has the ability to lower blood pressure. When we become stressed or anxious, our blood pressure can go up.
In food studies, participants who just smelled coconut had a reduction in their blood pressure. Its ability to reduce stress also makes coconut a great food to deal with depression. Their scent is enticing and in turn elevates your mood. Maybe they remind you of a warmer, calmer place? Whatever the case, coconuts are definitely instant mood boosting foods.
Why not spice up your diet to improve mood with some saffron? In traditional Persian medicine, saffron has been noted as part of the foods that help cope with depression. In small controlled trials, saffron performed well in treating mild to moderate depression. But keep in mind saffron does come at quite the price, so if you do plan on incorporating it within your diet to improve mood, use it sparingly!
It may seem so simple because our bodies require water to function, but it goes beyond that because drinking plenty of water also improves our mood. When we are hydrated our body can function properly, but even a small decrease in hydration – just one percent – can cause a big difference in our mood.
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition observed how water intake affected mood on 25 women. These women were either properly hydrated or mildly dehydrated, and their mood and cognitive abilities were then tested. On the mental tests, the hydrated women and dehydrated women performed about the same, but among the dehydrated group – they only had a decrease in hydration of one percent – there were complaints of headaches, fatigue and low mood.
When men were tested in the same manner, with results published in the British Journal of Nutrition, the men had greater difficulty performing the mental tests and experienced greater anxiety and frustration. This shows that drinking enough water is part of a diet to improve mood.
Sticking to the rule of eight glasses a day is a good option to stay hydrated. Even if you don’t necessarily feel thirsty, it’s important to keep hydrated. Remember even a slight decrease in hydration is enough to alter your mood. Takeaway: Your diet to improve mood should consist of plenty of water!
Most people are afraid of the word carbohydrates, or carbs, because they believe they will cause weight gain. Although this may be true if consumed in high quantities or if overly processed, carbs don’t have to be the enemy and are great foods when dealing with sadness. Stick with whole wheat or whole grain carbs that have not been processed.
In a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers followed participants who consumed a low-carb diet for one year. These individuals experienced more cases of depression, anxiety and anger in comparison to an alternative group which enjoyed a low-fat, high-carb diet. Researchers concluded that carbs can promote serotonin, and an ongoing low-carb diet could negatively impact mood. Make sure your diet to improve mood contains carbohydrates – just ensure they are the healthy kind!
Oysters are touted for their aphrodisiac affect but clams can also offer benefits. Clams can help improve mood based on their nutritional content. Essential vitamins in clams work not only as antioxidants, fighting off free radical damage, but they can help make serotonin and dopamine – two feel-good chemicals in the brain.
In several studies, the vitamins in clams were found to benefit patients with depression. If you want to improve your mood naturally, enjoy some clams. Don’t worry about them always being fresh – even the canned variety can improve your mood.
As a summertime stone fruit, apricots are delicious and pack a nutritional punch. Additionally, apricots are part of the list of foods that improve your mood naturally. Similar to clams, apricots contain the essential vitamins that produce feel-good chemicals in the brain to make you feel happier.
So far we mentioned tea as a way to improve your mood naturally; coffee makes the list as well. Research from the Nurse’s Health Study revealed women who consumed two to three cups of the caffeinated beverage were 15 percent less likely to be depressed. Those who drank more than four cups lower their risk of depression by 20 percent. This goes to show that not only can coffee boost energy, it can improve our mood as well.
Walnuts, and nuts in general, contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Once again from the Nurse’s Health Study it was found that people with high levels of alpha-linolenic acid have less incidences of depression.
When ALA levels are low it contributes to inflammation which is commonly found in those with depression. Low ALA also results in low dopamine – the feel good chemical – which can leave us feeling blue. If you want to boost your mood, snack on some walnuts to raise your ALA.
Radishes are known to help stimulate dopamine and norepinephrine which can boost mood. Tossing a few radishes in your salad is an easy way to improve your mood.
A powerful antioxidant, pomegranates are one of the foods that improve mood naturally. Research has shown that drinking pomegranate juice has positive effects on blood pressure as well as anxiety.
14. Yogurt and kefir
There has been much research which reveals a strong mind gut connection, meaning a happy gut leads to a happy mind. Both yogurt and kefir contribute to a healthy gut by adding probiotics.
A study from UCLA showed women who consumed yogurt twice a day had less stressful reactions when shown angry or aggressive images. In mice studies, mice that were fed probiotics were less stressed when navigating a maze.
Diet for boosting your mood
These 14 foods are a great way to put together a diet to improve mood. By including these foods to improve mood in your everyday life, you can achieve mood-boosting benefits and feel like a better you. There are many factors that can impact our mood, but by enjoying some of the best foods to improve mood, you don’t have to continue to feel down in the dumps any longer.
The foods that deal with depression, combat stress and help deal with sadness are natural ways you can feel better and start enjoying life again. And what brings us more pleasure than food?
Sharing a meal with friends and family is also a great way to give your mood an added boost. By cooking up some of these healthy items, you can share the wealth of mood-boosting foods – and reap the benefits – with the ones you love.
When I’m stressed or feeling down, I’m quick to turn to chocolate – and I don’t stop at the recommended single high-cocoa dark chocolate square! That’s the trouble with emotional eating. Once you start, it’s hard to just say no more.
As a doctor, I see people with a wide variety of health issues every day. One that I have noticed is really prevalent is depression in seniors. As people get up in years, the risk of dementia and other degenerative diseases of the brain become much more likely. So that’s why this new information I was reading about is so important.