From Mikaela Reuben
When it comes what we eat there is an ongoing dialogue about how different foods affect energy levels or digestion, but what is not often considered is how these foods can alter our moods. Although it is hard to say with certainty that one food could strictly and absolutely alter a mood (simply due to the complicated number of processes involved) there have been many studies linking foods and more specifically the minerals and vitamins they contain that attribute to changes in mood…Some we don’t even need science for and are just instinctual, like chocolate… We can all agree that chocolate makes us happy.
Dark chocolate is a great source of many minerals that play a role in a positive mood. 100g of dark chocolate contains 58% of the recommended daily intake for magnesium which is necessary in the synthesis of serotonin, one of our mood elevating neurotransmitters. Dark chocolate contains high levels of L-tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood. A study conducted by Journal of Psychopharmacology found that the polyphenols (antioxidants) found in cocoa helped subjects experience increased levels of self-reported contentedness and calmness. When choosing chocolate, be careful of the sugar content and purchase brands that are organic, sustainable, and those which contain a high percentage of cacao…the higher the better!
Is one of the highest dietary sources of vitamin D. Vitamin D receptor sites can be found in areas of the brain responsible for emotions and mood. Although the connection between vitamin D and mood has not been fully conclusive, research has found very strong associations between a vitamin D deficiency and depression and it has been seen that vitamin D and serotonin levels seem to fluctuate together. Wild salmon is also a good source of essential fatty acids, EPA & DHA. Our body cannot produce these necessary nutrients so we must obtain them from the food we consume. These fatty acids are crucial for brain health, hormones and signalling, and cell structure. Without these essential fatty acids neuronal signaling may be affected.
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of zinc, magnesium and iron – all nutrients that play a role in the regulation of moods. Studies have shown that a deficient level of zinc in the blood is associated with depressive disorders. Zinc has also been shown to be important for the proper functioning of GABA, a neurotransmitter that plays a big role in mood. In the body, zinc is found at its highest concentration inside the hippocampus – the part of the brain that regulates emotion.
This nutrient dense fruit is high in omega 3 fatty acids, tryptophan and B vitamins. Omega 3 fatty acids are a large contributor to a healthy brain and may help with mood swings and depression. Tryptophan, as previously noted, acts as a precursor to serotonin – our feel good neurotransmitter. Finally, B vitamins help with the production of neurotransmitters serotonin and epinephrine also necessary for mood regulation.
Sunflower seeds are a great source of vitamin B6. A deficiency in vitamin B6 has been shown to result in moodiness, forgetfulness and irritability. 1 cup of sunflower seeds contains over 50% over your recommended daily intake of vitamin B6. It is also effective in the treatment of pre-menstrual syndrome depression.
Citrus fruits are a high source of vitamin C. Deficiencies in vitamin C have been correlated with mood and anxiety disorders. Vitamin C has been shown to aid in better overall cognitive functioning and a lower risk of cognitive impairment. Vitamin C is also known for immunity, boosting energy levels, and maintaining integrity of red blood cells, which is important as red blood cells transport oxygen to the brain allowing it to function optimally.
1 cup of cooked lentils makes up for 90% of our recommended daily intake of folate. This is important with regards to mood balancing because folate (Vitamin B9) helps the body support serotonin regulation. A deficiency in folate has been shown to cause fatigue which can affect mood. Lentils are also a good source of iron and zinc.
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens (swiss chard, kale, spinach,) are a great way to stabilize moods. They are full of mood regulating minerals including folate, vitamin C, and zinc. The high amounts of microminerals present in leafy greens result in sufficient energy production and provide adequate support to the rest of the body for proper cognitive functioning and immune regulation.
Blue Green Algae (E3 Live)
This algae is one of the densest sources of phenylethylamine (PEA) a naturally occurring neurotransmitter that is associated with mood, energy level and attention span. Chocolate is another source of PEA, but E3 live contains over 50x more PEA. PEA has been coined the “love molecule” as it is associated with feelings of euphoria and happiness. It is also a good source of EPA and DHA.
And my favorite but not totally proven Food, if you will allow me to call it that…
Wine, but more specifically red wine, contains resveratrol. Resveratrol can stimulate structural change in the hippocampus of aging rats. These changes are associated with improvements in mood functioning and regulation. It is not determined whether red wine contains enough resveratrol to stimulate structural change and improved mood in a human brain, but it is a great thought, and based on my own personal experience, seems to be legit.