All of us face a certain degree of mood swings. These highs and blues could be because of various reasons. An easy solution is a closer look into the pantry or the refrigerator. There are a lot of foods that help to change one’s mood and elevate it. It is said that a nutritious diet and bright sunny days always combat low feelings in life. But a cheat day or a moment of weakness would never harm. Many foods are considered as mood elevators. Foods with high sugar content, fermented foods, amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and antioxidants are considered as foods that brighten up one’s mood.
Let us look at five different foods that help combat low feelings and pull up one’s mood.
Caffeine is universally recognised as a mood lifter. A low to moderate consumption of caffeine in the form of tea or coffee is considered helpful in lifting moods. Caffeine intake can be restricted to 5 cups a day. Anything more than 5 cups may lead to nervousness and anxiety. Caffeine, in particular coffee, contains certain components like chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid, and caffeic acid that soothe the nerve cells, which may cause depression. Caffeine induces alertness and attention. This is the main reason why many people around the world start their day with a hot cuppa. One can have an espresso shot without any cream, milk or sugar for an immediate effect. Even a frothy and rich cream-filled strong cold coffee will have a similar effect. Caffeine helps in the release of happy mood boosters like dopamine and norepinephrine. A word of caution: Though caffeine is undoubtedly a mood enhancer, excessive consumption has its side effects.
Bananas are one of the superfoods that help in elevating the mood. Bananas have vitamin B6 that helps in releasing the chemical messenger dopamine. Dopamine helps us to feel good about ourselves and hence turns a frown into a smile. Bananas contain a certain amount of sugar. A drop in blood sugar level is also a reason for feeling down and out. The sugar from the fruit elevates the mood. Slightly unripe bananas are considered a prebiotic. They help in the growth of certain bacteria that are present in the gut, stomach and other organs that aid digestion. With a healthy gut and a filled-up stomach, one can’t hang a sad frown. A regular release of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid or commonly called GABA is a must for mood enhancement. And bananas are a perfectly healthy and readily available option for the same. Most people dislike having a banana as a fruit. For such people, coffee or chocolate flavoured banana milkshake can do the trick. Oats and banana muffin with not much of sugar can be kept handy to brighten one’s mood.
Yoghurt or any probiotics:
Fermented foods like homemade curd are an excellent source of probiotic bacteria. Probiotic bacteria help in the growth and development of gut microbes. The lactobacilli and bifidobacteria in homemade yoghurt help in stimulating metabolism and energy levels. There is a direct connection between a healthy gut and brain nerve cells. Yoghurt or any probiotics help to maintain a perfect balance. They help to up the energy levels. Researchers have proved that fermented food has some extra nutritional value. Thus, helping in enhancing the happy state of mind and staying away from depression. There are many ways to enjoy this light and milky goodness. One can start the day with a bowlful of natural yoghurts. Bananas and curds would be a plus for people with a depressed mood. Sweetened fruit yoghurt off the shelf might just add on to the calories than lift up the spirit. Instead one can make a smoothie with yoghurt, one’s favourite fruit and some honey to taste.
People say chocolates are sinful, but if sin elevates mood, then why not enjoy a bit of sin once in a while. Chocolates have been a gift from the Aztecs to the world. The happy and vibrant Mexicans have let out their secret to the world. This dark fantasy contains stimulants like theobromine, serotonin and N-acylethanolamine. These release endorphins in the brain that makes one happy. Chocolates also contain substances that are natural anti-depressants. What makes this wake-up drug even more tempting is that it has nil or very little added sugar. This entices people who are feeling low to consume it without much guilt. Enjoying a piece of dark chocolate has the same effect as an excellent workout or basking in the sun. Chocolate is best savoured as it is just out of the wrapper. But one can also enjoy an almond meal or whole wheat flour chocolate brownie. Mood enhancing sugar can be adjusted with honey or natural sugars.
Berries are an excellent source of vitamin C. The brain releases a hormone called cortisol when a person is depressed or under stress. Vitamin C in berries like blueberry, strawberry etc. help in combating cortisol. Berries contain a lot of antioxidants like flavonoids which are major mood boosters. Researchers have proved that berries and vegetables with vitamin C help in reducing depression. Any fruits and vegetables with anthocyanins elevate mood and make one a happy person. Berries, when ripe, are full of anthocyanins. It is always recommended to have fresh berries, whatever is available in the season. But if one cannot find something according to their taste, frozen ones are equally beneficial. One can have it as a berry smoothie or top a handful on one’s favourite breakfast or just pop in as a mid-morning snack. Berries not only add colour and enhance the taste but pulls up the inverted curve of one’s lips to a smile.
An imbalanced diet can also induce depression. One can take a closer look at what is on the plate to let the moods soaring high. Though there are a lot of ingredients in the pantry, refrigerator and supermarkets, one has to choose wisely and pick stuff that helps in the release of serotonin, the happy chemical. A balanced diet, happy stomach and positive environment always elevate mood.