Got the Blues? You Are What You Eat
Food has the amazing ability to enhance your moods. Certain foods can excite you to help with motivation. Others can provide relaxation when you need it. That’s because many foods contain substances that break down during the digestive process to affect neurotransmitters, the chemicals in
the brain’s network that regulate moods. As a result, your emotions and behaviors can change.
A lack of certain nutrients may cause blue moods or even depression. Researchers, for example, have found deficiencies of omega-3 fatty acids in some people with depression and mood swings, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. If you’re feeling down, you might try cold-water fish, such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines or herring, which contain rich amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts and flaxseeds also have omega-3s.
Deficiencies in folic acid, a B complex vitamin, may lead to depression. A lack of folic acid lowers serotonin levels in the brain and may cause sad feelings. Eating green vegetables and fruit, which contain folic acid, may improve your moods. Low levels of selenium may result in anxiety, depression or irritability. Selenium, an antioxidant that researchers believe also fights certain cancers, can be found in whole grains, legumes, beef, poultry, fish, Brazil nuts and walnuts.
Foods can also be used to help you through your daily routine. Ever wonder why folks throughout the generations have started their morning with meat and eggs for breakfast? It’s because dairy products and meat, along with fish and poultry, are rich in protein. High-protein foods help boost energy, but protein also breaks down into amino acids to improve mental alertness. Tyrosine, an amino acid from protein, travels from the bloodstream to the brain where it helps increase levels of neurotransmitters, including dopamine and epinephrine, which lift moods to improve your
Carbohydrate-rich foods, such as whole grain bread and pasta, potatoes, rice and corn, work best for moods during an evening meal or when you want to relax. Carbohydrates help release more tryptophan, an amino acid, into the brain where it converts into serotonin. An increase in serotonin levels provides you with calming effects and even improves your sleeping patterns. If you don’t eat carbs, you can get even more relaxing tryptophan from turkey meat. See another Jerry Shaw article on controlling your moods naturally, this one through exercise.