When we feel low or have a bad day, we often turn to good food to make it better. Everyone has a list of comfort food to indulge in on a bad day. The list usually includes sugar-loaded treats or fried food. Though they lead to fleeting moments of joy or satisfaction, they have a poor effect on our overall health. Fortunately, there is a group of mood-boosting foods that can help deal with such days. Including these foods in our everyday diet can help avoid feelings of fatigue, impulsiveness and also improve mental health.

What foods lift your mood?

Whole grains (not refined) and legumes are good additions to a diet as mood-boosting foods. They keep us energized and reduce mood swings. Whole wheat pasta, Oatmeal, buckwheat noodles (soba) are some great options for a whole grain meal. Closer to home, including millets is a good option. Millets are whole grains, available in different varieties and can be added to an assortment of dishes.

Foods rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are recommended to improve mood especially in people with mood disorders. They are common add-ons to prescribed antidepressant pills. Fish, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils (Canola, flaxseed) are some very good sources of Omega-3s.

Fruits and veggies are also good mood food and specific types, such as citrus, berries, green leafy vegetables and tomatoes lead to elevated moods. 

Fermented food and probiotics keep the bacteria in our gut happy. Studies show that the quality of gut bacteria can influence our mood, reduce stress, anxiety and symptoms associated with depression. It’s a good idea to add Kefir, Yogurt/Dahi or kimchi to our diet to keep the gut healthy.

How does food affect your mood?

Energy Levels and Mood swings 

Processed foods, refined flours, and added sugars lead to a spike in our blood glucose level, giving us a temporary boost of energy, but these energy levels soon hit rock bottom and leave us with feelings of fatigue, aggression, and impulsiveness. Whole Grains or complex carbohydrates are a better and smarter option as they lead to sustained energy levels over a longer period. Switching to whole grains and legumes can avoid the whole “hangry” phenomenon.

Modulation of the Chemical messengers 

The reason why certain foods help regulate mood is that they influence the action of a set of neurotransmitters (messengers carrying signals to the brain) that control our mood. One of these messengers is serotonin, serotonin is responsible for the nature of our mood. The right level of serotonin leads to emotional stability, calmness and an overall feeling of well being. Low levels of serotonin are associated with feelings of aggression (impulsive responses) or irritability.

Luckily our diet can help maintain these levels. Foods rich in complex carbohydrates, omega-3-fatty acids, vitamin D, minerals, antioxidants are known to boost the production of serotonin. The gut bacteria plays a vital part in the production of serotonin.

Increased consumption of processed food with additives and preservatives may disturb the gut bacteria and hence it’s essential to maintain a healthy happy gut.

Several studies have linked diets rich in saturated fats (from fried food/processed food/fast food) as well as refined sugars to increased incidence of different mood disorders including depression and anxiety. 

An interesting result of one such study is the Mediterranean diet and its positive effects on mental health. The Mediterranean diet is based on the daily intake of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fish, white meats, olive oil, fermented dairy products and a small amount of wine. So next time we have a bad day, we might consider a falafel bowl or mezze platter to cheer us up.

A lot of research is being done to connect how healthy food can also lead to a healthy mind and the entire mechanism of such effects. The spotlight is on different food groups and their mood-enhancing roles.

Check out the products from Eatopia, they can help get closer to the good food and good mood goal.

All the products by Eatopia are free from refined sugars, additives, and preservatives. The products are loaded with superfoods and have the best ingredients suited for a good mood day.

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