Our brains and our bodies can often feel like they’re operating on two different wavelengths: sometimes, your body tells you to take a nap when your brain knows you’ve still got work to do, or your belly just screams for a candy bar when your brain definitely knows better. However, when it comes to our mood, our food choices and our feelings go hand-in-hand more often than you might think.
While a greasy plate of fries or sugary snack may temporarily alleviate a bad mood, long-term happiness is rarely doled out at a drive-thru. Fortunately, there are plenty of foods with proven mood-boosting benefits that can help you get happier and healthier with every bite.
Serotonin (the happiness hormone) and endorphin (the one in charge of reducing stress and increasing pleasure) have the mission of making us feel happy and well.
That’s why we suggest these 10 foods to make you happier.
Salmon, and fish in general, are an amazing source of both nutrition and happiness. This is primarily due to its high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve your mood and alleviate mild depression. Oily fish such as salmon also contain high levels of vitamin B12, which can help in the production of serotonin. This is one of the neurotransmitters that aids in feelings of well being.
Not a fan of fish? No problem, just get your hands on some fish oil capsules for your daily dose of omega-3.
In addition to having an abundance of nutrients, milk can also play an important role in our moods. The first is due to it containing iodine, which is important for proper thyroid function. The thyroid gland regulates almost the entirety of your body’s functions through the hormones it produces, including your mood. The second is due to the presence of whey protein in milk, which is said to alleviate anxiety. Got milk?
Similar to milk, Brazil nuts can positively effect your thyroid function. This is because they are rich in selenium, a micronutrient that helps the body to function correctly and is usually only found in plants. The amazing thing about selenium is that it its believed to have an almost instantaneous effect. This makes the nuts perfect for a quick energy fix.
There’s a reason why you feel so happy and satisfied after indulging in this sweet treat, and that’s because of a group of chemicals found in chocolate called N-acyclethanoloamine. They stimulate channels in the brain to release endorphins – the body’s pain-relieving and pleasure feeling chemicals. So, if you have some chocolate you’ll subsequently feel happy. This is important, because feelings of well being are imperative to maintaining our cardiovascular systems.
Despite its proven health benefits, we’re not giving you permission to inhale as much chocolatey goodness as your heart desires. Moderation is the key. Studies have shown that we need less than 7g per day, which equates to only 2 or 3 small pieces a week. So by all means, get those endorphins flowing, just don’t go crazy.
Coffee drinkers can be thought of as curmudgeons, but research has actually linked regular java consumption to positivity. In one study, researchers found that coffee consumed in the morning was linked to energy, kindness, and pleasure. Coffee enjoyed socially was tied to affection, friendship, satisfaction, and good nature; and when sipped leisurely, cups of Joe induced calm, happiness, and tranquility.
A sweet treat that is far healthier than sugar, honey can also have a positive impact on your mood. This is because it contains kaempferol and quercetin, chemicals which reduce inflammation in the brain and therefore helps to prevent depression. Honey also has has far less of an impact on your blood-sugar level, which means you won’t have a sudden
sugar crash that can leave you tired and depressed.
That’s right folks, pasta and other forms of carbohydrate rich foods can actually be good for you. They do call it comfort food for a reason. The carbs are great because they release energy slowly whilst simultaneously helping us to feel full and satisfied. In addition, pasta is full of protein which contains two important amino acids – L-pheny-lalanine and trytophan. As we’ve previously learnt, these release endorphins which help to elevate our mood.
It’s important to note that whole grains are a far healthier option when it comes to carbohydrates, so stick to multigrain or wholemeal bread, brown or basmati rice and wholegrain pasta.
Bananas are full of nutrients and fiber, minerals as well, and give your body a great energy boost. Since they contain tryptophan, they help produce serotonin. Thus they relax your nervous system. They lower your cholesterol and help with muscle cramps, and lower your blood pressure too. They’re also a natural antacid.
Spicy food contains a good amount of a chemical compound called capsaicin. When it comes in contact with your taste buds, it sends signals to your brain that release endorphin. That makes you feel euphoric and energetic. Capsaicin is also associated with fighting cancer cells and reducing neuropathic pain.