The human body is a complex and beautiful machine. What many people don’t realise, or choose not to, is that what we power our machines with plays a really large part in how our machines perform.
Just as the type of petrol we use in our car affects its performance, the type of fuel we consume affects ours. We all know about it when it comes to our energy levels, but what about our mood? Can what we eat affect our moods?
Of course it can.
The ironic part is, however, when I’m having a rough day and I feel at my wits end, sometimes I hide in the pantry so my kid can’t see me, and reach for the biscuits or the chocolate. It’s often not even about the energy hit, but just the taste of sweet goodness on my tongue makes me feel a little less like losing the plot. That’s the instant placebo effect, but what follows is the sugar high and as we know, what goes up must come down.
The good news is Mother Nature has actually provided us with a number of super mood-boosting foods that many of us have in our cupboards and fridges. Regretably, Tim Tams are not on this list, but there are many great alternatives that are scientifically proven to elevate your mood and alleviate feelings of anxiety and stress.
8 mood-boosting foods
Bananas are high in potassium, which helps the body create serotonin, the happy hormone. I dare say you’d have to need to consume quite a few bananas before you felt like going to a dance party, but as a simple pick-me-up it’s certainly worth a shot.
Pepita and Sunflower Seeds
Packed with Omega-3 fatty acids and essential nutrients, seeds are truly one of nature’s superfoods. If you think about it, that little seed can grow into a big plant so it’s jammed with everything required to do that. Known to help fight depression and aid with sleep.
Full-Fat Natural Yoghurt
Consuming at least 1000 mg of calcium each day has been found to effectively alleviate depression and anxiety in women. Calcium helps a person’s brain by causing it to release happiness-inducing neurotransmitters. Plain yogurt is actually one of the most concentrated sources of the mineral at 488 mg calcium per cup. (Nonfat milk has 306 mg per cup.)
In regards to health, honey is far better than regular sugar. Honey contains kaempferol and quercetin, which helps to prevent depression (and keep your brain healthy) by reducing inflammation in the brain. It also won’t send your body into “fat-storage” mode, like regular sugar can, by having less of an impact on blood-sugar levels.
Asparagus has high levels of folate and tryptophan. Low levels of folate have been linked to depression. Tryptophan is also used by the brain to make serotonin, which is one of the human brain’s main mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters.
Yolo! This is the one you’ve been waiting for, right? Dark chocolate has benefits that milk chocolate does not have. Dark chocolate improves the blood-flow to the brain, and provides an instant boost in concentration and mood. This will help you to feel more energetic and vibrant. Obviously, this must be used in moderation as the ‘chocolate remorse’ can undo your great mood!
Coconut milk and unsweetened coconut shavings are not only extremely tasty but also scientifically proven to make us feel better. Each serving is loaded with fats that are known to improve brain health, as well as fuel more positive moods. These fats, however, do go to your wobbly bits so again to be used in moderation.
This vegetable, often unappreciated, contains a large amount of magnesium, a nutrient that is vital part of the biochemical reactions that increase energy levels in the human body. A 2009 study by Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry (Journal of Psychiatry, Australia and New Zealand) revealed that low levels of magnesium are associated with higher levels of depression.
Can you see where I’m going here?
Let’s throw a load of this stuff into the blender and make us a super mood-boosting smoothie of joy.
I am going to be omitting asparagus though, as I just can’t get my head around asparagus in a smoothie, so maybe a side order of asparagus is a go-go?
Yield : 3 serves
What you will need :
- 1 banana
- 2 large chard or silverbeet leaves
- 3 pieces dark chocolate
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons full-fat natural yoghurt
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- a handful of strawberries, stems removed
- two handfuls of ice
Throw all ingredients into a blender and blend it like there’s no tomorrow. Pour into three glasses and drink yourself happy.
NB : If all else fails, I find a glass of wine also has great health benefits … always in moderation, of course.
If you are experiencing prolonged feelings of depression or anxiety, please seek professional help. Do not be embarrassed or scared. If you had a broken arm, you would see a doctor. Depression is no different, and as treatable.