How can we use food to improve our mood?

Vixx By Vixx, 12th May 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Diet & Nutrition

Looking at how we can utilise what we eat to improve how we feel.

Will food really improve our mood?

There are many reasons that we eat – some people use food for comfort, some people use food for nourishment and for fuel, and some people find it hard to acknowledge food for various reasons. We all have our own relationship with it, but ultimately we can use food to help improve our moods. Different foods have different qualities, and by using the right foods, and combining them in the best ways – we can help ourselves feel better and in a healthy manner too!

A lot of our moods can depend upon what we eat. Too much sugar (and caffeine) and we can become hyperactive. Then, when the sugar high runs out we crash, and feel low, tired and maybe headachy or grumpy. If we don’t eat enough food we can feel tired and sluggish, and maybe find it hard to concentrate on the task at hand.
Some moods don’t always come about from what we eat, but from the circumstances of our day to day lives. Some are chemical imbalances, such as some cases of depression. There is more research being done into how food can help assist a person suffering from things such as anxiety or depression in conjunction with any medical assistance that they may be getting. Some foods have been found to aid and improve mood, and one of these is what I would like to share with you today.

A lot of research is being done into something called Tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means that it cannot be made by our bodies – we must find it in the foods that we eat. It is also a precursor to Serotonin (a neurotransmitter), which helps the brain to perform various functions. Serotonin helps with control of many various functions within the body, such as hunger, thirst, confidence, mood and self-esteem. A low amount of serotonin has been linked with depression, so by eating foods containing a serotonin booster such as tryptophan, we can start giving ourselves a little mental lift. B vitamins also help to boost serotonin and so the two together can be very beneficial.

There are some herbal supplements that contain serotonin, or are designed to help boost serotonin, such as 5HTP or St John’s Wort and they can be utilised also – but you should always discuss taking these with your GP, and they should never be taken if you are already on an anti-depressant without discussing your medication with your GP. Some antidepressants can affect serotonin uptake in the body so ensuring that you are eating good, nutritious food that contains plenty of vitamins and minerals as well as serotonin can help you to help yourself.

The benefits of serotonin can include better sleep, increase in self confidence and lowered hunger levels. Too much serotonin can be bad for you though, hence discussing medication with your GP before starting any extra supplementation or medication. A multi-vitamin is always a good choice also in case there are any nutritional gaps in your diet.

So, what tryptophan containing foods should we be eating to help us improve our mood? There are a few different ones to look at, and hopefully there should be something for everyone to enjoy. The list includes:

• Turkey
• Milk
• Yoghurt
• Eggs
• Chicken
• Beef
• Nuts – pistachios and cashews are excellent.
• Beans, such as Soy beans.
• Seeds – pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds are good sources.
• Fish, such as salmon.
• Cheese – Cheddar, Gruyere, Parmesan and Swiss cheeses are particularly high in tryptophan.
• Rice
• Oatmeal.
Eating tryptophan-rich foods is not a guarantee for instant improvement, and depression is often a multi-pronged illness, which may need many different things to help improve it. But this can assist improvement in depression, and is worth considering.

Tags

Eating, Food, Improving Moods, Mood, Tryptophan

Meet the author

author avatar Vixx
I like to write about fitness, nutrition, my running efforts and race reviews.

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