Do you eat because you are depressed? Or are you depressed because of what you eat? Yeah, we get the two confused sometimes. But what we eat does actually link to our mood.
What we eat starts a chemical reaction that ends up at our brain, resulting in whether we feel happy, sad, a little under the weather, or totally fatigued. If you consciously take in enough essential nutrients through natural, whole foods, and eat a good balance of whole grains, lean proteins, dark leafy greens, fruits and other vegetables (fiber), these foods will balance the chemicals that make up the hormones that calm your mind. The brain also makes the hormones that regulate our bodies.
In the cold, dark of winter, we find ourselves reaching for certain comfort foods, when in the heat of the summer, the foods that offer us comfort are completely different, opting more for the fresh fruits and salads, and icy concoctions such as slushies and smoothies. One treat that is good any time of year, is chocolate. It is known to raise our serotonin levels. Serotonin is the hormone that regulates our mood.
Aside from the seasonal needs of our bodies, there are needs that are to do with the composition of the food in which we partake. Sugary snacks tend to spike our blood sugar; some people react stronger than others to this. When our blood sugar shoots up suddenly, it drops more suddenly than usual. This leaves many people feeling irritable, tired and sluggish, and craving for something else that will get that blood sugar high again. Some people will reach for caffeine, and this will also affect each person a little bit differently. Some people handle caffeine with no side effects, others it makes nervous and jittery.
You want to make sure to take in enough foods rich in iron, folic acid and vitamin B12. If you are lacking in any of these nutrients, you will feel more tired than you should. Foods rich in folic acid will also alleviate depression. Animal proteins, beans and legumes, and dark green leafy vegetables give you the nutrients you need here.
Many people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome have had favorable results from magnesium supplements. Magnesium aids in the production of protein, and is needed for calcium to work correctly in our bodies. It is essential for energy. Foods rich in magnesium are nuts, bananas, legumes, and whole grains.
If not enough sleep is your problem or you just want to calm down, foods rich in tryptophan and calcium are what you need. Calcium helps to regulate the tryptophan, which manufactures melatonin, the sleep hormone. Foods helpful to this process are dairy and soy products, most whole grains and legume crops, nuts and seeds, and poultry, and eggs.
Low Cholesterol is as dangerous to our minds, as high cholesterol is to our bodies. Symptoms of low cholesterol include mental impairment, anxiety, depression, aggression, and suicidal thoughts. Our brain does not function without fats. There are good fats, that provide a direct benefit to our brain, like the omega 3, 6, and 9 oils, that come from fish oils, nuts, and seeds. There are “bad” fats that raise our cholesterol too high, thus clogging up our arteries. These bad fats would be any oil (fat) which turns solid when chilled. We only need a certain amount of cholesterol for the formation of vitamin D. If we take in too much, it will get stuck on the veins and will eventually form plaque deposits.
If for the most part, we stay away from too much caffeine and sugars, and eat a generally healthy diet, mostly plant based; animal fats only in moderation, our mind and our body will both feel good. The right balance of food nutrients in the body creates a balanced mood.