By Sneha Sadhwani,
Feeling stressed, anxious or depressed? You can partly blame your diet for it. The food you eat and the nutrients that enter your body, have a major impact on your mood, anxiety levels and depression. Wrong food choices and poor lifestyle habits can make you feel blue, but a healthy diet favors good mood and induces a feeling of happiness.
Here are 6 ways to kick start your feel-good hormones and uplift your mood:
1. Eat Foods Rich In Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Growing evidence suggests that deficits in omega-3 fatty acids is a contributing factor for mood disorders. Omega-3 fatty acids inhibit the release of inflammatory compounds that have been linked to depression. These fatty acids further provide protection to the brain cells, enhance neurotransmission and have antidepressant effects.
In a study, 12 women with bipolar disorder and depression received omega 3 fatty acids for 4 weeks. An improvement in the symptoms was observed after the intake of omega 3 fatty acids.
How Can You Get Omega-3 Fatty Acids In Your Diet?
- Add oily fishes to your diet like:
- Plant sources include walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds.
2. Up Your Intake Of Fresh Fruits And Vegetables
Individuals who consume more fresh fruits and vegetables are linked to lower depressive symptoms and stress and higher positive mood, says a research published in 2018. The study also found top 10 raw foods that are related to better mental health, these include:
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Citrus fruits
- Fresh berries
The vitamins and minerals present in fruits and vegetables play a vital role in maintaining optimal physical and mental function via the following mechanisms.
- Natural antioxidants like vitamin C and carotenoids play a pivotal role in protecting the brain against oxidative stress. Thus, they inhibit the progression of neurodegenerative diseases and protect against some forms of depression.
- B-complex vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium and zinc are important for optimal cognitive and emotional functioning.
Hence, you can improve your mood and overall mental health by increasing your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables that are loaded with micronutrients.
3. Boost Your Intake Of Probiotics
In the last decade, probiotics have gained a huge popularity because of their ability to create a healthy gut environment. But, little do people know that a healthy gut is positively linked to a healthy brain.
The gut and the brain are connected to each other through the gut-brain axis.
The bacteria present in the gut activates the immune system, which plays a crucial role in regulation of the brain and human behavior.
Moreover, probiotics seem to exercise influence on mood, anxiety and depression. A scientific trial observed that individuals who consumed probiotics for 4 weeks showed an improvement in mood, fostering reduction in negative thoughts.
Foods To Eat:
4. Opt For Whole Grains
One interesting study found that consumption of whole grains is linked to better psychological function, whereas a positive association between refined grain consumption and depression and anxiety was observed.
Whole grains contain B-complex vitamins that convert the food we eat into energy, required for the proper functioning of the brain.
Moreover, B-complex vitamins are involved in the production of neurotransmitters that help in memory and learning.
Eating whole grains may also trigger the release of serotonin, a hormone that induces a feeling of happiness, keeps you calm and regulates mood.
Foods To Eat:
- Sorghum or jowar
- Pearl millet or bajra
- Brown rice or red rice
5. Reach Out For A Cup Of Green Tea
Green tea is referred to as a ‘mood and brain food’. Such an effect of green tea is attributed to the presence of compounds in it, which include:
- Caffeine- It improves cognitive performance, alertness and vigor.
- L-theanine- It improves relaxation and calmness and reduces tension.
- Epigallocatechin gallate- Improves mood, induces a feeling of happiness and relaxation and refreshes the mind.
Hence, drinking green tea may benefit the mood, induce mental clarity, improve cognitive function and help in relaxation.
6. Enjoy Dark Chocolate In Moderation
Chocolate is a comforting food and a mood-enhancing agent. Carbohydrates and flavonols in chocolate promote ‘feel-good sensations’.
Chocolate consumption induces neurotransmitter activity that may have anti-depressant benefits. Theobromine, a compound present in chocolate reduces the level of stress hormones in the body.
Dark chocolate boosts the production of endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that induce feelings of pleasure.
One study reported that individuals who consumed dark chocolate had 70% lower odds of reporting depressive symptoms than those who do not consume chocolate at all.
Chocolate contains a number of psychoactive ingredients that produces a feeling of happiness. Another compound in chocolate called phenylethylamine is important in regulating the mood. Hence, a moderate consumption of chocolate may be beneficial in uplifting the mood.