5 Ways to Improve your Mood through Food

Despite the brave face that we put on to the world, we all are faced with struggles throughout our lives. Be it the stress of an impending deal at work adversely impacting our sleep, the pressures of balancing family and work, or a challenging period in a friendship.  There are a myriad reasons why sometimes we may be feeling down in the dumps. While there is no magic bullet that will make you approach all adversity with a Cheshire Cat grin, it’s important to have a diet that is going to help you maintain the best mood possible.  Some diets do not include all of the necessary nutrients so it’s good to be well informed about the right supplements that can further assist you.

So how do you eat to maintain a positive mood? Here are a few of our tips:

1. Eat plenty of fish

Cold water fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to alleviate a downbeat mood. Brain tissue is especially dense with omega-3 fatty acids, making the connection between omega-3 fatty acids and brain health a fairly obvious one. The brain is in fact over 60% fat and omega-3’s are one of the brain’s preferred forms of fat. Studies have found that in individuals, who do not have a high enough intake of EPA and DHA, two beneficial omega-3 fatty acids in fish, exhibit higher levels of downbeat mood and hostility. Similarly, in controlled clinical studies, depressed patients who were provided with fish oil supplements demonstrated greater improvement than those who were given placebo supplements

Solution: Fish 

Supplement: Fish Oil / Omega 3 Fatty Acids

2. Don’t be afraid to get a little sun

It goes without saying that what you typically hear espoused by medical professionals around the world is that we are getting too much sun and not taking enough precautions to protect our skin. We wholeheartedly agree with that, wearing sunscreen and being mindful of overexposure can help to prevent a medley of negative long term health consequences. That being said, one of the primary sources of Vitamin D is through natural sunlight, and increasingly, research supports that adequate Vitamin D intake is linked to the promotion of a positive mood. The exact mechanisms behind how Vitamin D has this beneficial effect are still a source of debate within the scientific community – some speculate it has to do with the relationship they have with mood balancing chemicals like serotonin. Of course, for those who are unwilling or do not have access to direct sunlight depending on where they live, supplements are a viable alternative. The research on their relative efficacy compared to sunlight is still being studied but it is almost undoubtedly better than simply depriving yourself of any Vitamin D. 

Solution: Sunlight 

Supplement: Vitamin D

3. Get your cruciferous vegetables

Vegetables such as broccoli contain chromium, which assists in the regulation of important brain chemicals like serotonin, norepinephrine and melatonin; all of which are linked to the maintenance of a positive mood. In fact, chromium interacts directly with the mood regulation centers in the brain, making it an especially important mineral to get enough of in your diet. Fortunately, chromium is found in a whole medley of other sources beyond broccoli, including other vegetables (e.g. potatoes) and meat (e.g. turkey). That being said, many people supplement with chromium as the benefits have been shown to be largely similar whether coming from food sources or supplements. 

Solution: Broccoli 

Supplement: Chromium

4. Spinach – not just for Popeye.

Spinach is loaded with Vitamin B9, or folate, another key actor in the regulation of serotonin levels. As we’ve noted, serotonin is integral in the function of mood regulation. 

Solution: Spinach 

Supplement: Folate (Vitamin B9)

5. It’s okay to be a chicken sometimes


At
least as far as your diet is concerned.
Lean meats like chicken are loaded with Vitamins B12 and B6. These B vitamins assist in the production of neurotransmitters and regulate brain function thereby having a direct impact on our emotions and mood.  Oftentimes, people who have diets high in lean meat get sufficient amounts of these B vitamins whereas vegetarians and vegans, who don’t take special care to ensure adequate B vitamin intake, can often benefit from supplementation. 
Solution: Chicken 
Supplement: Vitamins B6 & B12

There are of course a bunch of other nutrients we have not touched upon here – minerals like zinc, magnesium and iron as well as herbal remedies like st. johns wort and valerian root. As a starting point, however, anyone interested in optimizing their mood through diet can benefit a great deal by heeding some of our advice above.

To learn more about the customized nutritional solutions that WellPath provides and how they can aid mental focus and emotional wellness, click here.