How Food Affects Your Moods
Can your diet help put you in a good mood (or a bad one)?
3. Eat a Balanced Breakfast
Eating breakfast regularly leads to improved mood, according to some
researchers -- along with better memory, more energy throughout the day, and
feelings of calmness. It stands to reason that skipping breakfast would do the
opposite, leading to fatigue and anxiety. And what makes up a good breakfast?
Lots of fiber and nutrients, some lean protein, good fats, and whole-grain
4. Keep Exercising and Lose Weight (Slowly)
After looking at data from 4,641 women ages 40-65, researchers from the
Center for Health Studies in Seattle found a strong link between depression and
obesity, lower physical activity levels, and a higher calorie intake. Even
without obesity as a factor, depression was associated with lower amounts of
moderate or vigorous physical activity. In many of these women, I would suspect
that depression feeds the obesity and vice versa.
Some researchers advise that, in overweight women, slow weight loss can
improve mood. Fad dieting isn't the answer, because cutting too far back on
calories and carbohydrates can lead to irritability. And if you're following a
low-fat diet, be sure to include plenty of foods rich in omega-3s (like fish,
ground flaxseed, higher omega-3 eggs, walnuts, and canola oil.)
5. Move to a Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is a balanced, healthy eating pattern that includes
plenty of fruits, nuts, vegetables, cereals, legumes, and fish -- all of which
are important sources of nutrients linked to preventing depression.
A recent Spanish study, using data from 4,211 men and 5,459 women, showed
that rates of depression tended to increase in men (especially smokers) as
folate intake decreased. The same occurred for women (especially among those
who smoked or were physically active) but with another B-vitamin: B12. This
isn't the first study to discover an association between these two vitamins and
Researchers wonder whether poor nutrient intake may lead to depression, or
whether depression leads people to eat a poor diet. Folate is found in
Mediterranean diet staples like legumes, nuts, many fruits, and particularly
dark green vegetables. B-12 can be found in all lean and low-fat animal
products, such as fish and low-fat dairy products.
6. Get Enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D increases levels of serotonin in the brain but researchers are
unsure of the individual differences that determine how much vitamin D is ideal
(based on where you live, time of year, skin type, level of sun exposure).
Researchers from the University of Toronto noticed that people who were
suffering from depression, particularly those with seasonal affective disorder,
tended to improve as their vitamin D levels in the body increased over the
normal course of a year. Try to get about 600 international units (IU) of
vitamin D a day from food if possible.