Do you feel like your mood is easily affected by your hunger level? Have you or someone you know experienced ‘hangryness’? Well, crazy to think that eating right can help with steadying your mood. Depression, eating disorders, and anxiety are just some of the major mental disorders that can be affected by diet alone.
- Hydration – The brain of an adult human is 78 percent water, and water participates in every biochemical reaction that occurs there. So, with dehydration you are lowering your ability to concentrate and be alert, as well as increase in tiredness and headaches. Daily fluid intake should be half of your body weight in ounces and can be different based on physical activity level, weight-loss dieting, and your environment. Keep calm and drink water.
- Carbohydrates and Protein – The amino acid tryptophan is a building block for serotonin, the calming, feel-good brain chemical. Typically, unless protein is restricted, you have enough tryptophan circulating to raise serotonin levels. A lack of (smart) carbohydrates in your diet is the most common dietary reason for low levels of serotonin. Serotonin is also responsible for helping the body prepare for sleep. Therefore, a combination of protein and carbohydrates (≥40% total calories) in your diet that can enhance mood, alertness, rest, and relaxation.
- Fish Oils DHA and EPA – Fish oils may help ease symptoms of depression and studies have shown that individuals with mild-to-moderate symptoms have benefited from fish oil treatment. Eating three to five 4-ounce servings of fatty fish per week is also highly recommended. I.E. Sardines, salmon, herring, trout, black cod, shellfish, and canned tuna.
- Vitamin D – Plays a big role in maintaining levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. Vitamin D deficiency is now a global public health problem, affecting a billion people worldwide. A daily supplement of vitamin D-3 or 800 to 1,000 IU may be a useful strategy for helping maintain a good mood. Some food sources include fortified milk and fatty fish.
- Choline – Choline is found mostly in egg yolks and is in the B vitamin family. It’s also half of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and half of the phospholipid, phosphotidylcholine (Say that five times fast). Both are used in the brain every time we think or move and to flush out toxins. There are studies for low choline levels to be associated with increase in anxiety and depression. It’s recommended that to increase choline levels to eat one to two whole eggs per day. The recommended adequate intake is 425 mg/day for adult women and 550 mg/day for adult men.
- A Plant-rich Diet – The brain is a highly metabolic organ, and research is beginning to indicate that many phytochemicals in plants act as powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, protecting brain cells from injury and reducing inflammation. So, eat your vegetables and they will help keep you healthy AND happy!