Does Your Food Change Your Mood?

By: Brooke Whitley, Gym Rat Foods and Caveman Cuisine

Summer is here – along with parties, weddings, and summer celebrations! Get-togethers are fun, but does your mood always match the occasion? 

Often, we all are not aware of the food we are consuming having an effect on our mood. How we feel can definitely be in direct correlation with what we eat. For example, the day after a long afternoon at a barbecue, we may feel sluggish, tired, bloated, or just not ourselves. Unless you’re at a health-conscious barbecue, you may not have had as many nutrient-dense foods as your body prefers. Burgers, brats, buns, ribs, chips, beer, and margaritas sound like a great time, yet none of those list smatch foods with “mood-boosting” nutritional properties. 

Food can be some of the worst mood-depressors. In fact, some foods have cheap fillers and preservatives that are linked to many health problems.1 One rare occasion of bad eating isn’t going to make or break our health, but habitual diet habits do catch up to us; causing inflammation, a compromised immune system, and ultimately, a depressed mood2. Indulging on a rare occasion is one thing, but habitually, you’ll need to plan for the best optimal health. Foods have a direct correlation to our health, and health has a direct correlation to how we feel. 

So what are some of the best mood boosters available through nutrition?

Avocados are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals. They are mostly water, almost no sugar, and a decent amount of fiber. “Avocado is the only fruit with a large amount of monounsaturated fatty acids.”3 The fat in the avocado helps the body absorb antioxidants more effectively, which can help reduce inflammation. Avocado helps our eye health, heart health, may protect against cancer, and can help control blood sugar. Healthy fat also helps satiation, which can help prevent overeating.

Leafy greens like kale help counteract free radicals. Fruits and vegetables contain the natural antioxidants required to combat free radical damage in the body. Free radical damage accumulates as we age, regardless… it’s just a part of life; but we get to choose the rate at which we allow our nutrition to help or hinder the process. Free radical damage includes pollutants, sun damage, smoking, inflammation in the body, and fried and burnt foods. We all want to feel younger and combat whatever life may throw our way. Leafy greens make a big difference in the big picture of health.

Berries are another great source of natural antioxidants. Shoot to have a tiny handful of berries a day.

Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower have high antioxidant phytonutrients. Cauliflower’s vitamin C content is no joke. It’s packed with vitamin C. You will hear the word “oxidative stress” in the health community linked with cancer. Stress management, healthy habits, eating fruits and vegetables, and especially eating cauliflower have been linked with helping to fight cancer. 

Cold-water fish like cod and salmon are a great source of Omega-3s. Their high EPA (long-chain omega 3 fatty acid) content helps lower inflammation. 

Squash is easy to grill, bake, and sauté. Squash is a great low-calorie addition to a healthy diet, along with being high in nutrients and antioxidants as well.

Consider making your everyday diet in line with some recommendations above. Indulge occasionally, but may we never underestimate the link between our health, diet, and overall mood. How we feel matters, which is why our health greatly matters.

References

Mantz, A. (2015, October). Add It Up. Thrive Market Season’s Eatings, 1(1), 12-13.Berk, et al. So depression is an inflammatory disease, but where does the inflammation come from? BMC Medicine. 2013 (11)200.W., Nichols, H., M., L., A., Krienke, H., . . . L. (2017, January 24). 19 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Avocado (#13 is WOW). Retrieved June 19, 2017, from http://www.well-beingsecrets.com/health-benefits-of-avocado/

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