Food and mood are so intricately linked that they have inspired a new field of brain study: Nutritional psychiatry, which examines how what we eat affects how we feel.
As a dietitian and nutritionist who has researched and experienced this connection on my own, I find it infinitely fascinating that we can empower ourselves to feel partially – or sometimes completely – better based on our diets.
The foods you eat can make or break everything from your work and productivity to your mental state and physical health. To boost your mood and brain energy levels, put these 35 foods on your shopping list:
1. Pumpkin seeds
Complex carbohydrates contain more nutrients than simple carbohydrates, and due to their higher fiber content, they take longer to break down.
They also help stabilize blood sugar levels, which can stabilize your mood. Fluctuations in blood sugar can make your mood change quickly, leaving you irritable, low on energy and feeling downright awful.
10. Lean beef
Protein is necessary for a healthy energy level. It takes longer to digest than carbohydrates, which keeps your blood sugar balanced and provides renewable energy.
Amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, help repair and rebuild tissues – and your body needs them to make certain neurotransmitters.
18. Brussels sprouts
It has also been shown to help prevent neural tube defects, support cell growth and repair, and regulate sleep patterns, especially as you get older.
A lack of folate levels has been linked to a number of brain problems, including dementia and depression.
Your body needs vitamin C to maintain and repair all tissues, so it helps heal wounds and ulcers. Plus, your adrenal glands require vitamin C to make stress hormones, including cortisol. The more stressed you are, the more cortisol you produce – and the more vitamin C you need.
31. Sour cherries
Tryptophan, as well as nutrients like calcium and vitamin B6, help you produce melatonin, but you can also get this “sleep hormone” from the foods mentioned above.
Melatonin does not have a soporative effect. Instead, it moves you into a state that helps you ease your way to sleep. Eating food rich in melatonin before bedtime can help you take full advantage of the natural increase in this hormone that happens in the evening.
Patricia BannanMS, RDN, is a dietitian, nutritionist, chef and author of “From burnout to balance: 60+ healing recipes and simple strategies to boost mood, immunity, focus and sleep.” She has appeared in The Oprah Magazine, Shape, Health, Parenting and Good Housekeeping. Patricia received her master’s degree in nutrition from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Do not miss: