Greetings! Today I’d like to share vital information on nutrition and its impact on happiness, because who the heck doesn’t want more happiness? Am I Right?
Eating for Happiness
Researchers have discovered all kinds of new relationships between food and mood, and the results paint a clear picture: What you consume directly influences your happiness, including factors like stress, anxiety, and emotional stability. I mean, how could you not be curious with this kind of proof?
Interestingly, this relationship is dose dependent. Seven cups a day of veggies and fruit seems to be the magic number, as more did not show additional improvement. And when people added in other natural “anti-depressive” actions—such as exercise, mind-body practices, and targeted supplementation—the numbers on health and happiness went up even higher.
Superfood SuperStars For Mental Health:
Here are the superfoods that have the biggest bang for their buck when it comes to mental health, relaxation, and happiness. So let’s all eat for better health, less anxiety and happier days.
Kale, spinach, collards, bok choy, beet greens (to name a few) are chock full of nutrients that power your brain and bod. High in magnesium, they also promote relaxation, helping your brain increase GABA, which is a neurotransmitter involved in relaxation and stress relief.
Additionally, these greens are rich in vitamins, particularly Vitamin C, which can help reduce the production of stress hormones.
These veggies (particularly broccoli) are some of the most nutrient-dense on the planet. Their compounds promote health in many areas, including mental and emotional well-being.
Another example is cabbage, which has selenium and tryptophan, which help relax and support your mood. They all support detoxification and are packed with antioxidants that help enhance internal cleansing. Cruciferous vegetables are also high in fiber, which can support a stable blood sugar level, preventing mood swings.
In a new study out of Japan, it was shown that matcha tea powder stimulated dopamine and lessened depression in mice. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in mood, motivation, satisfaction, reinforcement, and other actions associated with brain health.
We already knew that green tea has extensive health benefits—including its impressive anti-depressive properties—but the new research explains HOW it works its magic for your brain.
These are brain-boosting, relaxation-promoting superstars. Rich in healthy fats, magnesium, Vitamin K, B6, and folate, they truly support the whole body. And the monounsaturated fats in avocados can contribute to better blood flow, which is vital for optimal brain function.
These are considered “green foods” due to their high chlorophyll content. As an example, spirulina contains a high percentage of Vit B12, as well as protein and minerals. All of which are essential for mood and mental health.
Microalgae can provide a concentrated source of essential nutrients, particularly B vitamins, which play a key role in neurotransmitter synthesis and brain health.
Tryptophan in Turkey:
Turkey is perhaps the most famous source of tryptophan. It contains a relatively high amount of tryptophan, which is one reason why it’s commonly associated with that post-Thanksgiving meal drowsiness.
The protein in turkey is also rich in the amino acid tyrosine, a precursor to dopamine. This means that turkey can have a double impact on mood, by supporting both serotonin and dopamine production.
So, yessss… I’m going to be doubling down on all of this for the next few months as I navigate my own emotional roller coaster as a new empty nester. I hope this gives you some motivation toward bringing in more veggies and fruit into your daily life.
These foods will help keep your immune system humming during the fall and winter months, cut down on free radicals (which are the baddies that cause inflammatory damage), and feed your gut all kinds of good bacteria.
In health and happiness!
Functional & Integrative Nutrition Practitioner, CNC, CHHC