It’s no surprise that when your body is healthy, you will feel better overall. When we are healthy our immune system is kicking butt and keeping us from getting sick, we have more energy, we have better focus and cognition, and physically we are just killin it…
But did you know that the foods you consume can have a huge impact on your mood?
I’m not talking about that chocolate cake or ice cream that “made you feel better” after that awful breakup or those shots that completely reversed the shitty day at the office. I’m talking about a real physiological response… And no not like the coffee that wakes you up in the morning and allows to tolerate all the idiots you will inevitably deal with throughout your day haha… Stay with me here…
Foods we consume on a regular basis.
Foods that we all eat with (probably) no idea these are making an impact in our stress levels.
Here is a handful of foods and their specific vitamins that can help IMPROVE mood and control those stress and anxiety levels…
Whole grains, broccoli, and vitamin D:
Complex carbohydrates and vitamin D rich foods boost our serotonin levels. Foods such as cod, tuna, salmon, and eggs are all good sources of vitamin D. Broccoli is also a strong ally of serotonin.
Omega-3 fatty acids:
These guys relieve inflammation and improve communication between nerve cells in the brain. People with omega-3 deficiency are more susceptible to mood instability and have a higher risk of panic attacks. So eat your nuts, seeds, oils, fish, and leafy greens everyone!
Arugula and basil:
Certain herbs, these in particular, have a high level of folate which helps to enhance mood. Herbal teas including chamomile and green tea also have a calming effect on the brain due to certain combinations of amino acids and antioxidants. These are often used in stress relief.
L-tyrosine is an amino acid used by the brain to make neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine. L-tryptohan is one of the main building blocks of serotonin. Meats, poultry, beans, lentils, and other protein rich foods are good sources of L-tyrosine. Wheres L-tryptohan can be found in turkey, bananas, baked potatoes (with skin), dairy, legumes, and seeds.
Deficiency in L-lysine is also linked to stress-induced anxiety. Similarly to L-tryrosine, this is found is high protein foods. **Tip: For all you protein powder drinkers, L-lysine is found in many protein mixes, especially those containing an amino complex. So check that label and buy smart 😉 **
Foods rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E tend to have antioxidant properties. These foods include many fruits (berries, pomegranate, grapefruit, and pineapple), vegetables (kale, peppers, spinach, and beets), and nuts and seeds (pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds).
Sunflower seeds and vitamin B complex:
Sunflower seeds are also a great source of vitamin B5, which is often referred to as the “anti-stress vitamin”. Bananas and avocado are also high in B5. Vitamin B6, B12, and Thiamin (B1) also play a part in the balance and communication of neurotransmitters in the brain. B6 assists in the processing of serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine. You can find this in liver, red and green peppers, beef, wheat germ, and nuts. B12 is essential in the formation of red blood cells; a lack of which can lead to mood swings. This is heavy in shellfish, eggs, meat, and lamb. Thiamin converts glucose into energy which, as we all know, if you have none of that can play a gigantic part in depression and anxiety. Peas, spinach, and brown rice are good sources of this.
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep, something that plays a huge role in depression, anxiety, and stress levels. Some foods contain small amounts of melatonin. These foods include oats, rice, tomatoes, ginger, bananas, radishes, and barley.
So like I said…
Foods we consume relatively often can help our body process, fight, and prevent stress and anxiety. Certain foods can also regulate mood in a way to help prevent and reverse depressive feelings and symptoms. Next time you have a super stressful day or are experiencing high anxiety, put down the chocolate and the vodka. Instead have a cup of green tea. Make a fishy meal with leafy greens, brown rice, and basil seasoning. Feel the benefits!
Fuel your body. Be great.