Have you ever eaten something only to make you feel dreadfully fatigued or slow, given you a headache or made you feel bloated and remorseful? If so, you should also ask yourself if you’ve ever eaten something that made you feel energized without a quick rise and crash, relaxed or satisfied without feeling as if you’ve over-indulged. You may have experienced both feelings. Either way, read on to learn about foods that boost your mood naturally, without the horrifying side-effects of processed foods that leave you feeling a myriad of unsatisfying emotions.
Good foods don’t have labels, unless it’s a PLU code (Price Lookup Code, often found on produce) or a UPC on meats and poultry. If good foods had labels, you’d see things like carbohydrates, magnesium, selenium, B vitamins, folic acid, vitamin D, Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin C, choline.
The labels might also say contributes to serotonin levels, dopamine levels, acetylcholine levels, endorphin levels, promotes blood sugar control, improves memory, increases stamina, and boosts mood. You’re not likely to find a label like that out there.
It’s important for you to know which foods boast these mood-boosting characteristics, since their benefits won’t appear on the labels.
Olives are a food you either love or hate or love and hate, in some cases. Some love green olives, but can’t stand black olives and vice versa. Olives and olive oil boost the naturally occurring levels of serotonin in your body. Serotonin regulates your appetite, body temperature, behavior, sleep and mood, among other things. A deficiency in serotonin is linked to anxiety and depression.
Other foods known to boost serotonin levels include potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, halibut, scallops, cod, bananas and dark chocolate. Avoid white chocolate at all costs. It’s technically not a chocolate, as it does not contain healthy cocoa.
Exposure to the sun, while typically frowned upon due to risks cancer, also triggers serotonin production as well as aiding in the absorption and production of Vitamin D.
Foods containing Vitamin B6 also aids in the production of serotonin. Bananas are a great source of Vitamin B6 as well as cereal grains, legumes, vegetables (such as carrots, spinach, peas, and potatoes), milk, cheese, eggs, fish, liver, meat, and flour.
Dopamine affects your endurance and emotional response. Foods that will naturally increase your dopamine levels contain tyrosine, commonly found in dairy products, meats, poultry and nuts. Other tyrosine rich foods include avocados, bananas, lima beans, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds. Foods containing Omega-3 Fatty Acids, may also trigger the release of dopamine. Most fish has Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
Acetylcholine? It sounds like one of those chemical-laden ingredients you find on processed food labels, but in fact, it’s one of the most studied brain chemicals. It has major effects on emotions and moods and is directly tied into your nervous system, which controls the heart rate. Acetylcholine increases the heart rate or slows it down.
Foods that contribute to the natural production of acetylcholine are high in lecithin and include egg yolks, whole grains (such as oats, corn and barley), soybeans, wheat germ and organ meats. Vegetables that contain high levels of choline include brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes, black beans, kidney beans and peanuts. Fruits such as bananas and oranges are also rich in choline. Sesame seeds and flax seeds are also good sources of choline.
To enjoy the benefits of choline rich foods, you should avoid overcooking them. For example, boiling broccoli diminishes its antioxidant values. Stir-frying, steaming or even microwaving broccoli are better ways to prepare this nutrient rich food without sacrificing its nutritional benefits.
Endorphins, another neurotransmitter that are naturally produced by the body, can be simulated and supported by eating foods such as bananas, chili peppers which contain capsaicin, dark-chocolate which has phenylethylamine. Other foods that contain phenylethylamine are beans, lentils, nuts and seeds as well as meat, seafood, poultry and dairy such as eggs milk and soy.
Endorphins are naturally produced by the body during exercise, excitement, pain, love, sexual activity and while eating spicy foods, consumption and more. Endorphins are a chemical that produce feelings of euphoria or calmness.
Endorphins offer natural pain relief in amounts far more potent than any narcotic.