Feeling down? Take a look at your diet – at least that’s what many researchers are doing in order to explore the connections between food and mood.
Junk foods, such as heavily processed, fried and artificial foods, demonstrate serious negative impacts on the brain and emotions, similar to narcotic drugs.
They stimulate short term reward centers in the central nervous system, but over time they can lead to dependency and mood imbalances, not to mention the all-too-common long-term health consequences.
The good news is a number of studies show that people – young and old – who eat more vegetables and fruits have better emotional stability, more happiness and less stress and anxiety. Recent research has also demonstrated that antioxidants – abundant in many plant-based foods – can promote emotional well-being.
One 2013 study, published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, examined the relationship between diet and mood in 281 young adults. Authors reported that participants who ate more fruits and vegetables felt calmer, happier and more energetic, calling for further studies to explore these connections.
Here are some star player foods that go a long way to boost mental, emotional
and overall physical health and wellness. These whole foods are rich in antioxidants, minerals and nutrients to support relaxation and boost mental clarity and happiness. They also support numerous other areas of health in the process.
Leafy greens, such as spinach, beet greens, collards, kale and others, are loaded with nutrients that the brain and body love. In particular, they contain high amounts of magnesium (particularly spinach), which is essential in promoting relaxation and helping the brain to increase GABA activity. GABA is a neurotransmitter involved in relaxation and stress relief, among other important functions.
Greens also contain B vitamins and folate, which are essential in managing stress. Micro-algae, such as spirulina, are also considered “green foods” because of high chlorophyll content. Spirulina contains a good percentage of stress-busting vitamin B-12 as well as protein and minerals, and helps to balance blood sugar which is also essential in promoting a healthy mood.
Cruciferous vegetables, particularly broccoli, are some of the most nutrient dense vegetables. They contain a number of active compounds that promote many areas of health including mental and emotional well-being. Cabbage contains tryptophan and selenium (along with numerous other phytonutrients), which help relax and support a healthy mood.
Broccoli is high in vitamin C, which helps combat the effects of increased cortisol. Furthermore, these vegetables are excellent detoxifiers and contain an abundance of antioxidants to help promote long-term physical, mental and emotional wellness.
These rich fruits are nutritional super-foods. Packed with healthy mood and brain-supporting fats, protein, vitamin B-6 and folate, avocados support numerous areas of health including a balanced mood. Avocados also contain tryptophan, which helps promote healthy relaxation.