Nutrition and Mood

Does what you eat affect your mood and mental health? More than you can imagine.

Father's pleasure

A daddy holds a son on hands. A hairbrush is in a hand at a child.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the lack of certain nutrients is associated with poor mood. For example, omega-3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish and flaxseed oils) and tryptophan (found in turkey and milk) can enhance your body’s production of serotonin, the feel-good hormone that controls your mood.

  • In addition, tryptophan has a calming effect, which is why you feel sleepy after a heavy Thanksgiving meal.

Complex carbs — whole grains and vegetables, for example — also help your body produce serotonin. Diets low in carbs can have an unexpected impact on your mood, making you feel depressed and tense. If you’re snapping at people often and too easily or if you’re having trouble concentrating, your low-carb diet might be to blame.

  • The solution?

Add some healthy grains to your diet, such as whole-wheat pasta or brown rice. Keep the portions small if you’re trying to lose weight — Your body doesn’t need that much to work properly.

  • Another must have? Iron

Lack of iron can lead to anemia, which not only has a number of physical effects — weakness, fatigue — but also a huge impact on your mental health and mood. Too little iron can lead to depression. Folic acid works together with iron to keep your body and mind strong, so make sure you’re getting enough of it as well. Good sources of folic acid include oranges, green leafy vegetables, and nuts.

On the other hand, stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol provide a quick lift — followed by an equally fast crash that affects not only your physical energy but also your mental one. Abuse either one of these and you’ll end up stressed out and exhausted over the long run.

  • Finally, make sure you get enough vitamin D

The easiest way to get it is to spend some time in the sun every day. How long depends on where you live, the season, and the color of your skin — but at least 15 minutes a day seems to be the general consensus. If that’s not possible, look for milk enriched with vitamin D or eat more salmon or mackerel, both of which are good sources of this vitamin.

It pays to adjust your diet.  It can greatly affect your mood and your health.

  

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