By Chloe Howe
The past few months have brought about times of change unlike anything people could have predicted. Economic, social, societal, and countless other pressures brought a wave of stress over life. These are “unprecedented times”, but many are asking themselves when we will ever return to. . . precedented times? Until those times return, it is important to adapt and make the most of life in the new normal.
With the world facing a new reality, and people facing new restrictions in quarantine, maintaining mental and physical health must be a priority. Many people associate the what they eat with effects on physical health, but often overlook the link between food and mental health. In the new normal, we may no longer have access to what we relied on in the past to comfort us. However, there are things you can do, and food you can eat, to help increase motivation, productivity, and overall happiness. Below are some foods that are proven to help boost your mood. Incorporating them into your diet may help you cope and thrive in these challenging times.
Selenium, copper, magnesium, manganese, and zinc are just a few key minerals present in various nuts making them a nutrient powerhouse in the food world. They have long been recognized as a source of healthy fats and heart healthy antioxidants. In particular, walnuts and almonds are full of omega 3 fatty acids and calcium: two nutrients linked to an increase in serotonin production, which can contribute to a mood boost.
Seeds may be diminutive in size, but just a handful can pack a big nutrient punch. They are easy to incorporate into your daily routine by simply sprinkling them on top of foods you already enjoy. Chia, sunflower, and hemp are just a few examples of seeds that can easily be added to your meals from breakfast through late night snacks. Try them over toast, yogurt, oatmeal, salads, tossed into smoothies, and as a mix-in with your favorite ice cream. Loaded with omega 3 and other healthy fats, seeds deliver extra nutrients that both your brain and body will love.
You might be noticing a pattern between foods that boost your mood and foods high in omega3 fatty acids! Many seafoods also have high levels of this essential, mood boosting nutrient. Wild-caught salmon and trout are especially noteworthy, however there is a wide variety of fish and shellfish from which you can choose. Not only do these omega3s and healthy fats contribute to brain function, they also help boost mood in another way. One of the most common factors contributing to depression is inflammation. Inflammation in overworked muscles or arthritic joints can cause debilitating pain. Luckily, one of the best ways to fight inflammation is with healthy fats. Eating foods that are known to be rich in these nutrients is a great way to reduce inflammation in your daily life.
Dark Green Vegetables
It’s no secret that dark, leafy green vegetables are good for you, but did you know that they are just as important to your mental health as your physical? They are rich in vitamin C, magnesium, and folate, a mood boosting super nutrient. Folate is important to the production of feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine. Additionally, folate may aid in decreasing depression and improving the effects of antidepressant medications. Loading up on greens such as spinach, collard greens, and kale can improve your mental and physical quality of life!
Who ever said that eating chocolate was bad for you? Cacao has long been known to boost mood as it, like leafy veggies, supports the production of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Additionally, cacao can boost endorphins which contribute to feelings of happiness and can even reduce physical pain. It is important to choose a dark chocolate with 70% or more pure cacao in order to get the most benefit out of your dark chocolate treat.
Add just a few of these mood boosting foods into your daily diet and, hopefully, you’ll soon notice the effects of their countless benefits!