As the days get shorter and the temperature colder, you can easily fall into the trap of winter blues. Combine it with the daily stressors of navigating life through a pandemic and your winter wonderland fantasy has just become a lot less wonderful. As you settle in the warmth of your home while the cool weather envelops everything around you, it can be tempting to reach for a little pick-me-up in the form of comfort food. But before you go reaching for holiday treats to help cure the winter blues, we’d like to share some food for thought (pun most definitely intended). Did you know that there are foods that boost your mood?
Science shows that an estimated 90% of the body’s happy hormone, otherwise known as serotonin, is made in the gut. So, it only makes sense to start with your diet when it comes to improving your mental health and overall well-being.
In this post, we’ll share with you a few simple dietary changes that can help to balance your gut and boost your mood.
What Does Science Say About Mood-Boosting Foods?
Before we get into the types of food that boost your mood, it’s important that we discuss the science behind eating the right mood-boosting foods and how they interact with your body to improve the symptoms of depression and anxiety, amongst other benefits such as improved sleep and concentration.
In a clinical study named appropriately for the occasion – SMILES- researchers divided a group of nearly 70 participants currently diagnosed with depression into two unique groups. One group had no form of medication or therapy but instead was provided with a dietary plan that was based primarily on a Mediterranean diet and consisted of fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fish. While the second group met regularly with a therapist but their diet remained unchanged and consisted largely of processed foods and salty and sugary snacks.
The result of this study left no room for arguing that food greatly affects our mood and mental health. The group of participants that had their diet switched to a healthier alternative full of mood-boosting foods showed significantly fewer symptoms of depression than the second group and nearly half was no longer meeting the criteria to be diagnosed with depression.
How To Use Food to Boost Your Mood
Whatever your dietary preferences are, there are plenty of mood-boosting foods to appease your refined tastebuds. An important note is that you do not have to transform your entire diet as in the clinical study, but rather become mindful of incorporating some of the foods below into your regular eating habits to reap the most benefit from their mood-regulating properties.
The foods below could be a staple in your diet for boosting the mood and improving your overall health.
Warming up with a cup of warm tea is a cause of happiness of its own, especially when the weather outside is cold and gloomy. But you can potentially reap additional benefits if that tea happens to be green tea. In a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, drinking green tea on an everyday basis reduced depression symptoms in the elderly.
Green tea is full of mood-boosting and stress-reducing nutrients, one of them being L-theanine, an amino acid that has been clinically proven to fight and reduce anxiety.
Before you mentally prepare yourself to sacrifice the taste of your favorite foods for the sake of mental health, we have a happy surprise for you. Your favorite comfort food is amongst one of the best foods to boost your mood!
Chocolate and its high contents of antioxidants make it the top contender in the world of mood-boosting superfoods. A research study conducted in Switzerland found that eating dark chocolate regularly significantly reduced cortisol levels and other hormones in people who continuously experienced high levels of stress.
So the next time you consider skipping dessert, think about how happy it will make you... literally!
Since 90% of your body’s serotonin is produced in the gut, it’s important that you eat foods that help balance the bacteria in your gut. Probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and other fermented foods can help maintain the bacteria balance and keep the bad bacteria in check.
Investing in a quality probiotic supplement or simply incorporating probiotic-rich foods can help keep your gut healthy so it can focus on creating that happy hormone your mind and body loves!
Berries, and in particular blueberries, are amongst the top foods richest in antioxidants. Due to their high content of flavonoids, a type of antioxidant, blueberries can help in mood regulation, improve brain function, and help prevent premature brain aging. Easy to incorporate into the diet in the form of smoothies or eaten by themselves, blueberries are one of the most delicious foods that boost your mood on the market!
By incorporating any of the foods mentioned above, you can find that your days have gotten just a little brighter, your mood a little lighter, and your life a little happier.