Your diet is directly related to how you feel, and it is no surprise that if you eat the wrong foods, then you may feel down. Research has shown that our diets have changed over time since the days of our paleolithic, hunter-gatherer ancestors.
What we eat makes all the difference!
For example, fermented foods like yogurt have been shown to increase
our mental well-being, and our ancestors ate fermented foods
unknowingly. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology states,
“Our Paleolithic ancestors had plenty of opportunity for the
consumption of food products (for example, honey, fruits or berries, and
their juices) that had been unknowingly subjected to natural microbial
dive into 5 foods offering the best mental health properties you may
have unknowingly been avoiding. Probiotic yogurt, amino-acid rich
protein, omega-3 fatty acid from fish, folate-filled greens, and
deliciously sweet antioxidant berries are all notable foods to lift your
mood and keep you enjoying life to the fullest.
1. Probiotic yogurt
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that
have many helpful benefits for your physical and mental health. Most
fermented foods containing probiotics were consumed by our paleolithic
ancestors, and these foods affect neurotransmitters, decrease oxidative
stress, and ultimately keep healthy bacteria in our stomachs. Recent
research has also found probiotic food like yogurt to have exceptional
health benefits in regards to stress and anxiety.
Research published in Medical Hypotheses (2005) found probiotics to be a treatment in major depressive disorder (MDD) and suggests, “The
effect of probiotics on systemic inflammatory cytokines and oxidative
stress may ultimately lead to increased brain derived neurotrophic
factor (BDNF). It is our contention that probiotics may be an adjuvant
to standard care in MDD.” Devouring your morning yogurt may go a long
way in keeping your mental health moving in the right direction.
2. Amino-acid rich protein
Protein is an essential building
block for your body to grow, stay strong and remain healthy as you age.
If your body lacks protein, you may have some underlying imbalances in
your body, which, in turn, may cause your mood to shift. Protein rich in
amino acids assists in the hormonal structuring of a key mood
neurotransmitter, serotonin. Serotonin is an oldie and
a goody when discussing your mental health. When your body has adequate
protein, the amino acid tryptophan boosts your serotonin levels.
A 2012 French study Brain Responses to High-Protein Diets, by Dr. Marian Journel and colleagues found, “Protein
seems to play an important role in the emergence of satiety.” Their
study discusses the direct correlation between high-protein consumption
and neural processes. However, you don’t want to start buying steaks
every night for dinner. Eating a variety of lean protein, such as eggs,
chicken, beans and fish, is a better overall choice for your mental and
3. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish
You may have heard or read several
delightful facts and old wives tales regarding the wonders of omega-3
fatty acids already. What you may not know is that omega-3 is not only
an excellent resource for your body, but also an exceptional partner in
improving your mental health. Fatty fish or fish in general contain high
daily values (DV) of omega-3. Sardines contain almost 2,000 mg per 3-oz
serving, and salmon contains approximately 1,000 mg per 3-oz serving.
These numbers are wonderful since the recommended DV of omega-3 hovers
between 250 mg and 500 mg.
Adding more omega-3 to your diet can
assist you in leading a happier life with less anxiety and depression.
It is far from a cure-all, but you may see a rise in your mood if you
add fish to your dinner menu three times a week. A study published in
the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition
(2007) found, “Experimental studies in animals have shown that diets
lacking omega 3 PUFA lead to substantial disturbances in neural
function, which in most circumstances can be restored by the inclusion
of omega 3 PUFA in the diet.” With all those delicious fish choices like
salmon, tuna and halibut, why not eat a bit more fish?
4. Folate-filled greens
Getting your daily dose of vegetables
has been the topic of the dinner table since most of us were young,
“non-vegetable” activists. Over the years, you may have decided
vegetables are good — and good for you — which is the right choice. We
all know now that mom was in fact right the whole time about eating our
veggies. Getting those green veggies are even more important, and it may
even be linked to how you feel during the day. Lifting your mood with
vegetable power may seem silly; however, there has been ample research
of late to support a link between low folate levels and depression.
Guess what? Green veggies contain a lot of folate!
A 2010 study published in Psychosomatic Medicine suggests,
“Future interventions aiming at improving mental health outcomes among
US adults should take into account dietary and other factors that would
increase levels of serum folate.” Folate, better known as vitamin B9, is
found in green veggies like spinach, lettuce, asparagus and broccoli,
and according to this recent research, increased folate leads to a
happier you. Spinach contains 49 percent of your folate DV per 100 mg,
and asparagus has almost 40 percent per 100 mg. Pair green veggies with a
delicious omega-3 rich fish, and you have a meal designed to improve
5. Deliciously sweet antioxidant berries
have always been a crucial part of human existence and were often a
prime subsistence food source for our hunter-gatherer ancestors. If you
want to boost your antioxidant levels and increase your mental health,
then consuming more delicious berries is the way to go. Berries like
raspberries, strawberries, grapes and blueberries contain massive
amounts of antioxidants.
Research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
(2012) found that the antioxidant effects berries boast are linked to
improvements in adult depression. The study states, “Only food sources
of antioxidants were inversely associated with depression. This may
indicate that the form and delivery of the antioxidants are important,
and that other components of fruits and vegetables may be beneficial for
depression.” Get back in touch with your paleo self and forage your
local farmers’ market or grocery store for some fresh organic berries.
If you are feeling blue and need a
pick-me-up, but you’re not sure where to turn, give your diet a look.
Are you balancing the right foods? Are you taking into consideration
your mental health as much as your physical health? Balancing the two is
essential for a healthier and happier you, so sitting down and making a
menu plan to boost your mood is the next step in improving your mental
health and personal wellness.
—The Alternative Daily