Going beyond the physical effects of healthy eating
When contemplating moods, most people would say the source of our grumpy or happy dispositions lie within the brain — or even colloquially, the heart. Not many would assume that a major component in our ever-changing moods can actually be found in the stomach.
Our brains are key in the production and facilitation of a substance called serotonin: a neurotransmitter charged with the task of carrying signals between our nerve cells. Serotonin is not only responsible for maintaining a good mood and a healthy sense of well-being, but it’s also vital for bone density and even blood-clotting.
It’s a key component in our bodies.
What’s not common knowledge is that the majority of our serotonin is not produced in the brain. According to a study by Caltech, it’s estimated that around 90% of our body’s serotonin is produced in the digestive tract. To put it simply, we have countless serotonin receptors in our stomachs, and the foods we consume can either disrupt or peacefully coexist with the millions of necessary bacteria that live inside us, affecting how efficiently we produce a healthy level of serotonin.
Better food, better mood
Not only do we need to be mindful of what we eat to keep our bodies feeling good, but we also need to be mindful of what we eat to keep our moods in order too.
The best way to do this is by avoiding processed foods, sugars, and refined carbohydrates.
The next step after eliminating the enemies of any healthy “pro-mood” diet is to start introducing some new foods. Foods that our stomachs can (literally) sit well with. These are foods that promote the healthy production of gut flora, serotonin, dopamine, and all other naturally occurring compounds which help to promote a healthy sense of well-being.
“Pro-mood” foods to eat:
The most important component in the relationship between food and mood is maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. In fact, as new studies continue to uncover, the bacteria in your gut may be the most influential factor in regulating your mood. The millions of gut bacteria are constantly sending and receiving signals to and from the brain, meaning it’s vital that you help these healthy microorganisms to flourish. This is done by consuming probiotic foods containing live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you such as:
- Sourdough Bread
2. Folate-rich vegetables
Vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals and are a staple to any well-balanced diet. What’s important for mood is vitamin B-9 or folate found in foods like spinach and other green vegetables.
Although the studies are only rudimentary, evidence shows that low folate levels may be linked to the reduced metabolism of serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline. In other words, you can stave off depression and mood swings if you incorporate some of the following leafy greens into your diet:
- Brussels sprouts
3. Omega-3 fatty acids
Each year, a growing number of studies support the claim that omega-3 fatty acids are key in maintaining a healthy brain and mood function. Deficiencies in omega-3 are linked to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
Foods that are high in omega-3s include:
- Canned oily fish
Protein isn’t just a building block in growing muscle; this underrated compound serves many functions in keeping your body a well-oiled machine. Proteins contain the amino acids that your brain needs to produce your mood-altering chemicals. They help to increase the release of dopamine and norepinephrine (feel-good chemicals) by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates in your blood.
5. Vitamin-D rich food
Another key food to incorporate into your diet is vitamin D, another booster of your body’s serotonin levels. This vitamin usually occurs naturally in our bodies when we’re exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, but many variables may cause significant deficiencies in vitamin D for some people. These variables could be genetic, lifestyle, or even geographical (if you live in the Antarctic).
Foods to include into your diet that are high in vitamin D include:
- Egg Yolks
- Foods fortified with vitamin D (milk, orange juice, cereals)
- Fatty fish (tuna, herring, salmon)
- Beef liver
Eating whole and living happily
As the world continues to rediscover the importance of eating wholesomely, we find that what we consume affects every aspect of our overall well-being.
At Fit2Go, we embrace this concept in everything we do. Beyond your average diet plan, Fit2Go is a nutrition-based service customized to your lifestyle, health goals, and personal taste. Our nutrition experts can develop the perfect meal plan delivered right to your door. Contact us today!