Your diet is directly linked to your health, and not just your physical health. The foods that you choose to eat can improve your mood, keep you calm and increase your overall levels of happiness. If you want to be healthy and happy, consider adding the following five mood-boosting foods to your diet.
If you can’t imagine a morning without at least one cup of coffee, then this study will make definitely make you happy. Research from the Nurses’ Health Study shows that the risk of becoming depressed is 15% lower in women who drank two to three cups of coffee each day. That number increased to 20% in women who consumed four or more cups of coffee daily. Researchers believe that this is due to the caffeine content found in coffee. Caffeine increases dopamine and serotonin transmission in as little as 30 minutes.
Eating cultured dairy products increases your probiotic bacteria (the healthy kind of bacteria) in your gut, but it may also do a bit more. A UCLA health study indicated that women who consumed probiotic yogurt twice daily had a decreased stress response when shown images of angry or frightened faces. This finding aligns with a study that found mice who were fed a probiotic had a significantly diminished stress response during the completion of a maze and being forced to swim (two activities that generally stress rats out). The theory as to why cultured dairy increases happy is that your gut and brain send messages via the vagus nerve and probiotics may send a message to remain calm and lessen stress. When you go to the market for your yogurt, be sure you are buying yogurt that is labeled as having “live and active cultures.”
The idea that chocolate makes you happy may not be new to you, but there is actual science behind why this happens. You know that dark chocolate contains tons of antioxidants, perhaps most beneficially polyphenols. Studies have shown that one of the polyphenols in dark chocolate actually mimics the effects of marijuana on the brain. An Australian study showed that individuals who consumed a drink with high doses of dark chocolate received a contentment and calmness that other participants didn’t. When choosing your chocolate, remember that the darker it is, the better it is for you. Strive to always eat chocolate with a cacao content of 70% or higher.
A Nurses’ Health Study discovered that women with the highest levels of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in their diets were less likely to be depressed than those with a low intake of ALAs. The science behind this mood-boosting food is pretty straightforward: when you have low levels of ALA, inflammation in your body increases which is linked to depression. Not consuming enough alpha-linolenic acid actually decreases your natural levels of dopamine and serotonin, leading to depression.
Clams are loaded with vitamin B12, which is may keep you happy. Low levels of B12 can lead directly to depression, because the vitamin is necessary in order for the brain to function properly. Studies show that people with depression who added a B12 supplement to their antidepressants had significantly improved mood after a three-month period. Don’t worry if you don’t like clams, you can also get B12 benefits from tuna, salmon and beef.
Your diet not only keeps your body healthy, it can keep your brain happy as well. By stocking up on the five foods above, you feed your body and brain with essential vitamins, minerals, chemicals and antioxidants that help you perform at your highest, and happiest, level.