CAN FOOD AFFECT YOUR MOOD?
Ever feel a certain way after you eat? Ever feel a certain way after you DON’T eat? Ever just wonder why you feel a certain way?
Did you know that your mood can be directly affected by the foods you eat? If you seem to find yourself in certain moods quite frequently, you may need to look no further than your diet. Nutrients in foods are precursors to neurotransmitters that carry out processes from your brain to the rest of the body. Therefore, all foods will play some part in your energy level, or lack thereof. It’s always good to eat a well balanced diet full of vegetables, lean meats, fruits, complex carbohydrates, and healthy oils and fats; however, are there certain times when these food groups should be eaten or avoided? Let’s take a look at how some of these food groups affect the body…
PROTEINS FOR ALERTNESS – whenever you eat foods high in protein such as chicken, turkey, fish, eggs and beef, your body will break down these proteins into their respective amino acids. One of these amino acids, tyrosine, causes the increase in production of the neurotransmitters dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine which the body uses for its fight or flight response. Therefore, if you want more alertness and energy, add more protein to your diet.
CARBOHYDRATES TO RELAX – want to get a good night’s sleep? Try incorporating more carbohydrates into your diet for dinner. As carbohydrates are digested, your body will release insulin into the bloodstream. As the insulin clears away the amino acids from the blood, it leaves behind one called tryptophan. Tryptophan gets converted into serotonin, which the body uses for a number of processes including pain reduction, appetite suppression, and a sense of relaxation (just to name a few). The only source for serotonin in the brain is tryptophan. It cannot be converted from any other substance. If there is not enough tryptophan in the diet, it can lead to anxiety and depression. Therefore, if you find yourself having trouble to sleep at night, try eating a quarter cup of steamed brown rice before you go to bed. For chronic sleep problems, you may want to try a quality herbal supplement such as 5-HTP, before resorting to powerful prescription drugs, which could lead to dependency. However, remember to consume carbohydrates in moderation.
FEELING DOWN AND OUT – whenever we get down or depressed, it could just be something as simple as a lack of proper nutrients. Low levels of folic acid and selenium have been linked to depression in clinical studies. For alternatives to antidepressant medications, try incorporating a vitamin/supplement with both of these ingredients. There are certain foods that contain both of these nutrients, but you would have to eat a TON of them to reach the needed intake. Aim for 200-400 mcg of folic acid and 100-200 mcg of selenium in supplement form.