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10 foods to lift your mood

Last updated on: September 11, 2009 14:39 IST

Let's face it, sometimes life can be tough. And managing your work and your personal life can be tough, and managing your weight and fitness, well, even tougher. No one can live a long and healthy life without the will to go on; sometimes mood swings can make us feel that life is too much to handle. But did you know, a bad mood not only gives you a gloomy outlook, it also lowers your immune function, leading the way to illness.

As it turns out though, what we eat is not only important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle; it can really make a difference on your outlook as well. The food you eat affects your physical as well as your mental well-being. This means a bad diet can be one of the causes of depression. On the other hand, a healthy diet may be enough to lift your spirits without the need for medication and counseling.

So, if it is true that food fuels your body and also fuels your mood then which are the foods that you should search for when you hit the blues? Well, here is a list of foods for your mood:

Oatmeal
The carbs in oatmeal trigger the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that boosts mood and can even help you sleep better. Recent studies have shown that after consumption of high carbohydrate food, the hormone insulin is secreted, which lowers the blood levels of most amino acids, with the exception of tryptophan, which is a precursor to serotonin. When there are high blood levels of tryptophan in relation to other amino acids, it enters the brain at a higher rate, thus synthesising more serotonin. While all carbs will give you this kick, stick to whole-grains (complex carbs) as they are digested more slowly and will thus keep you feeling fuller for a longer period of time. Examples of whole grains include brown rice, daliya and oatmeal. So if you want to have a good day, start the day with a bowl of oatmeal.

Milk
Well, as it turns out there a reason why you should add milk to your cereal. Milk is also a good source of tryptophan as so are other dairy products. Thus adding milk to your cereal or just having plain milk will have a happy and calming effect. Whey proteins have also been shown to decrease anxiety and frustration.

Coffee
Your morning Java contains caffeine which is the world's most popular psychoactive drug. It boosts metabolism and energy levels, making you feel more alert. It also manipulates the channels in the brains, thus activating the brain's pleasure centers. However, too much caffeine can make you dependent and make you nervous, irritable, or bring on headaches. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid coffee and other caffeinated foods and beverages before bedtime.

Banana
According to a recent survey, many people suffering from depression felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan (although it's not one of the major sources, a medium banana still contains about 10.6 mg of tryptophan). Moreover, it also regulates your blood glucose levels with the Vitamin B6 and smooth your mood naturally. Vitamin B6 is needed to convert the phenylalanine to mood-enhancing dopamine. If you don't get enough vitamin B6, you'll probably feel low, and stress depletes your levels further.

Avocado
The monosaturated fats in avocados help your brain be sensitive to serotonin levels. And there is more, these same fats will help lower blood pressure over time. So that's two kills with one stone. Moreover, avacados have one of the highest contents of Vitamin B6.

Turkey
It's no secret that turkey contains tryptophan, but it also contains a chemical phenylalanine that the brain converts to dopamine. Dopamine is a neuro chemical that elevates mood and motivation.

Fish
When you're feeling down, cook up some fish. Their high levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to fight depression, moodiness and impulsiveness. They boost serotonin levels and the zinc present in fish enhances your brain's receptiveness to the neurotransmitter. The best fish are fatty fish such as salmon, herring and sardines. Salmon is also a natural source of Vitamin D which according to recent researches may increase the level of serotonin.

Walnuts
Walnuts have long been thought of as a "brain food" because of their wrinkled, bi-lobed (brainlike) appearance. Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids for vegetarians. They are also enriched with tryptophan, which is a precursor to serotonin -- mood enhancing chemicals.

Alcohol
This is one thing we all know that works! According to a recent study, moderate drinkers (two drinks a day for men, one for women) had fewer depressive symptoms, but alcohol in large quantities can be a devastating depressant.

Dark chocolate
So the best things always come the last. This sweet treat has a mild, temporary effect on your mood. In part, it's an emotional response. However, chocolate contains some caffeine, which acts as a stimulant, and the food's sugars and other compounds trigger the release of serotonin and endorphin. Moreover, cocoa and dark chocolate contain significant amounts of antioxidant flavanols, which improve blood flow in the brain.

There is one more thing that will help you lift your mood almost instantly. It's not a food, it's exercise. Research suggests that exercise may provide an immediate mood boost for people suffering from depression.

You deserve the best that this life has to offer for your body, mind and spirit. It all starts with how you treat yourself.

Let the good feelings flow!


Disclaimer: This article is for informational purpose only.

LifeMojo is a wellness company, helping people to live a healthier life. LifeMojo provides online and on phone nutrition consultation services to help you achieve your weight loss and fitness goals.