Food for better mood
Foods we eat everyday have tremendous impact on our mood. People who experience mood swings can improve so much with simple dietary changes and may completely eliminate the need of anti-depressants. Researchers found that there are specific foods that helped people bounce back from adversity more quickly than others.
By taking foods containing amino acid tryptophan; slow releasing carbohydrate like sweet potato, corn, whole grains, pasta and fruits; food rich with folic acid and vitamin B, oily fish and avoiding trans-fat, alcohol we can boost up our mood and keep it cheerful.
The Food and Mood study, supported by the mental health charity 'Mind', reported that 80 per cent of people interviewed said they felt better when they changed what they ate and drank. A quarter of them said their mood swings, depression or anxiety disappeared.
The neurotransmitters (chemicals that transmit nerve signals from one neuron to the next) named serotonin and Dopamine are responsible for mood activation and happiness. If we do not receive certain critical nutrients that make those neurotransmitters optimally, we are likely to pass through mood disorders.
Eat a mind meal
The meal should be rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that is converted into the 'feel-good' chemical serotonin. Serotonins regulate impulse control and appetite, help to lift mood, boost feelings of optimism and induce calm. Dairy products, eggs, chicken, beans, bananas and lentils are rich in tryptophan. Certain carbohydrates — whole grains, pasta, oats or fruit, which release energy slowly into the body that help you to feel good for longer.
Avoid trans-fats and hydrogenated fats
This means no processed foods or deep-fried food, nor ready-made cakes or biscuits: they all contain damaged fats that are bad for brain health. Some processed foods contain artificial additives such as tartrazine or E102 or flavouring agents which can have a toxic effect on the brain and deplete the body of important nutrients.
Eat food rich in folate and B vitamins
Low folate levels were detected in severely depressed people and conversely, symptoms of depression are one of the main indicators of folate deficiency. Good dietary sources of folate include black-eyed peas, lentils, kidney beans, broccoli, sunflower seeds, spinach, asparagus, cabbage, peanuts, tomato, strawberries, eggs, bananas.
Avoid caffeine and sugar
If you are prone to depression there is a good reason of cutting down or eliminating them. This is related to blood-sugar balance. If you have lots of sugar or caffeine, you cause sudden surges and slumps in blood sugar, which then affect the supply to the brain. The brain needs a slow and steady supply of glucose to maintain stable moods.
Eat more oily fish
Essential fatty acids, in particular the mood boosting omega 3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are found in sea fish and oily fish such as salmon, sardine, and tuna. They are good for our heart too. Diet low in EPA starves the brain which in turn inhibits the activity of feel-good neurotransmitters.
Take adequate minerals and water
Nuts, whole grain, cereals, pulses, leafy greens, brinjal are rich in minerals. One vital factor in our diet is water which is often neglected. Dehydration occurs due to lack of water and makes us feel lazy and depressed.
Do not drown your sorrows with alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant with an initial paradoxical effect. Alcohol inhibits the absorption of many of the nutrients vital to brain health.
Food is an area of extreme danger and extreme pleasure. Good food does more than satisfying the appetite — it could cure the evils of the world. We all should stay stick on these foods to feel good all the time.
Dr Rajib Bhattacharjee (M. Pharm, PhD) is a Deputy Director of Board Of Investment. E-mail: [email protected]