While Australian doctors, who last year wrote 13 million prescriptions* for antidepressants, appear unconvinced, there’s increasing evidence that eating the right food can elevate your mood.

Scientific research suggests that some vegetables, fruits and spices can affect the chemistry of the brain and act as mood enhancers, promoting calmness and a sense of well-being, while vitamin and mineral deficiencies can lead to mood swings, insomnia and depression.

“The food that we eat every day has a massive influence on the functioning of the brain,” says Tanushree Podder, author of You Are What You Eat.

“Diets with low nutrients, exposure to the environmental toxins in our everyday living, stress, working around the clock against the dictates of our body clock, constant intake of stimulants like alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and junk foods to keep us going, all have an enormous effect on our mental functions,” says Ms Podder, who quit the corporate sector eight years after completing her MBA.

“Research has proved that certain kinds of foods play a very significant role in keeping brain cells active,” she says.

Brain chemicals (neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and acetylcholine) influence the way we think and feel and can be affected by what we’ve eaten, according to Mind, the British-based National Association for Mental Health.

“Low levels of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids have been demonstrated to affect mental health and there can be abnormal reactions to artificial chemicals in foods, such as artificial colours and flavours,” says Mind.

“There is now a huge amount of evidence linking omega-3 deficiency and depression,” psychiatrist Dr Jonathan Zeuss tells Gary Null (“the new Mister Natural”, according to Timemagazine) in Null’s bestseller, The Food-Mood Connection.

“They are absolutely crucial fatty acids.  Your body can’t make them itself so it’s essential to get them into your diet,” says Zeuss, who completed his medical training in Adelaide and practises in Arizona.

Omega-3s are found in green leafy plants like spinach, in fish, chia seeds, flaxseed (also known as linseed) and supplements such as flaxseed oil and fish oil.

“High quality omega-3s provide one of the most powerful and sustainable boosts to healthy moods,” says Mike Adams, co-founder of NaturalNews.com.

“You really can eat your way to happiness,” says Adams. “By ‘happiness’, I mean lasting happiness, not the fleeting kind of sensory happiness that might be experienced from sucking the cream filling out of a Twinkie.”

“Focus on consuming large quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables,” he says. “You simply cannot overeat fresh fruits and vegetables and they’re loaded with mood-lifting nutrients. Nuts including pecans, almonds, pistachios, macadamias and walnuts also support healthy moods and healthy brain function.”

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– Graham Osbourne

 

via Foods That Improve Your Mood.