You may think that good mood foods are those fatty comfort foods like chocolate donuts that seem to make you happy… for a while. But on some level you know that those type of fattening, processed, refined sugar filled foods are not really good mood foods. You know they are not healthy for you, add weight, clog arteries, kill off your healthy intestinal bacteria and that smile on your face is short lived. Real good mood foods are those superfoods that increase your energy level, help you moderate your weight and/or stimulate the release of “feel good” chemicals such as serotonin that regulates mood or epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine that influence energy and mental focus. Real good mood foods feed your body the nutrition it needs to be strong and healthy. When you feel good and look good, your mood naturally gets a boost. But even more than that, there are foods that interact with the body to produce the chemicals that produce a happy feeling. Here are some tips for superfoods to add to your diet to keep you feeling good.
Magnesium Rich Foods
Magnesium is an essential ingredient for muscle relaxation, overall body calm, and has a soothing influence on mood. The body also needs magnesium to convert sugars into a form the body can use for energy. Many of us lack magnesium in our diets. Magnesium rich foods include green vegetables such as spinach, cereals and grains such as brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal and bran, peas, beans, peanuts, lentils, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, cashews, almonds, halibut, and fruits such as bananas and figs. Don’t overdo the magnesium though since once your body has absorbed enough magnesium it will release the rest via your colon, usually in the form of diarrhea.
Keep Blood Sugar Stable
Eating foods with carbohydrates from whole grains that are rich in fiber such as wheat bread, brown rice, and cereals can help increase levels of serotonin and are absorbed slowly by the body which means they help keep blood sugar levels stable. Go with complex carbohydrates rather than simple carb foods to keep your energy level up throughout the day and avoid the fatigue from blood sugar crashing. Quinoa is a great grain for complex carbohydrates and also has all the amino acids your body needs (and can’t make) for protein synthesis which builds muscle mass. According to Darryn S. Willoughby, PhD, director of the Exercise and Biochemical Nutrition Laboratory at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, building muscle mass increases your reserves of energy and increases your stamina. Cinnamon has also been shown to be effective in balancing blood sugar levels.
Not getting enough of the enzyme amylase can also result in unbalanced blood sugar levels and mood swings. The cooking processes often used in preparing food kill off many of the natural enzymes in foods. A high quality enzyme supplement can help you get the digestive enzymes your body needs.
Serotonin is the brain chemical that produces feelings of calmness and happiness and regulates mood. Eating foods with tryptophan helps in producing serotonin. Nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds and cashews are high in tryptophan. Tryptophan levels can also be increased by eating “good” carbohydrates like whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Walnuts are also high in antioxidants, have vitamin E which helps nourish the skin, selenium, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids. Serotonin levels are also increased by vitamin D. Getting 600 IU a day from foods has been shown to help with depression. Vitamin D can be found in fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel and raw fish is higher in vitamin D than cooked fish. If you are not a sushi fan, then look for vitamin D fortified cereal, dairy and soy products, white button mushrooms and possibly consider a cod liver oil supplement. The B vitamin folate, vitamin B9 to be precise, has been shown in research studies to reduce symptoms of depression. Folate aids the brain in producing serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Folate can be found in dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach and in Brussels sprouts, beans such as pinto and garbanzo, asparagus, peanuts, soybeans, liver, lentils and sunflower seeds.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Your brain needs omega-3 fatty acids to function. Specifically, the brain needs two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA. The best sources for omega-3 are coldwater fish like cod, mackerel, tuna, herring and salmon. These cold-water fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids because they, in turn, eat a lot of blue-green algae. Fish oil high in omega-3 fatty acids has been found through research studies to help prevent depression by affecting the brain’s neurotransmitter pathways. If you are not a fish lover, then you’ve probably guessed that taking AFA bluegreen algae supplements will also get you the omega-3s you need. Other food sources for omega-3 are flaxseed, walnuts, olive oil, edamame, wild rice, soybean oil, spinach, kale and chia seeds.
Good Mood Foods Supplements
One of our favorite energy superfoods for a mood boost is this ginseng and edible mushroom supplement full of powerful natural ingredients that support regeneration and mental clarity. Ingredients that make this supplement a “natural” in energy foods and for a mood boost include:
- Cereboost®, Standardized American Ginseng, long used in improving cognitive function, preventing fatigue and increasing energy.
- Resveratrol, a polyphenol with antioxidant properties, found in skin of red grapes, some berries and peanuts.
- Lion’s Mane, a mushroom that has been called “nature’s nutrient for the neurons” due to NGF (nerve growth factor) being found in it. Scientists currently are interested in its benefits for stimulation of nerve growth, neuropathy, age related memory function, mental clarity, and the neurological system.
- Agarikon, a rare polypore or tree-based conk mushroom commonly found in the old growth forests of Oregon and Washington, revered by the ancient Greeks as an “elixir of life.” Research today revolves around uses with inflammation, age related memory function, immune system, oxidative stress and cellular support.
- Cordyceps, a mushroom rich in proteins, plant sterols, polysaccharides, antioxidants, and nucleoside derivatives. It has been used in extracts and formulas for health benefits throughout history.
- Bluegreen Algae, rich in phytonutrients, plant-based proteins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, as well as a wide spectrum of micronutrients, making it a nourishing whole food that provides a broad range of benefits.
Another supplement we love for supporting the production of neurotransmitters to support mood and provide all the brain health benefits of algae is this supplement that combines nine colorful algae giving you a unique richness of minerals and phytonutrients from the lake and sea. It is made with dulse, kelp, fucoidan, Ecklonia cava, bladderwrack, Dunaliella salina, spirulina, chlorella and pure wild bluegreen algae from Klamath Lake. Here is a breakdown of the whole food nourishment each of these ingredients is known for:
Dulse – A dark red sea algae rich in phytonutrients and pigments, high in plant-based protein, with important vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B6, B12, and A, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and manganese.
Ecklonia Cava – A rich source of bioactive derivatives, mainly phlorotannins, including triphlorethol-A. These phlorotannins are strong antioxidants as well as a source of other benefits for supporting healthy living.
Fucoidan – A seaweed compound derived from brown sea algae and is a sulfated polysaccharide.
Kelp – A wild algae that occurs naturally in all the oceans of the earth and is a rich source of micronutrients and minerals including vitamins C and E, calcium, magnesium, boron, and trace elements that are necessary for strong bones and muscle function.
Bladderwrack – A brown algae found in the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans that is rich in vitamins and minerals and contains the sulfated polysaccharide fucoidan.
Dunaliella Salina – A sea microalgae with high carotenoid content (beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, zeaxanthin, lutein), antioxidants, and important vitamins.
Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) – A variety of bluegreen microalgae that is rich in chlorophyll, phycocyanin, a broad spectrum of minerals and phytonutrients, and vitamins A and K, and provides a complete protein profile.
Chlorella – A strain of green microalgae grown through freshwater aquaculture that is rich in nucleic acids, amino acids, peptides, polysaccharides, and minerals.
Bluegreen Algae – A bluegreen algae that is the only edible freshwater bluegreen algae in the world that grows abundantly in the wild, and is considered one of the most nutrient-dense foods on earth. This algae is rich in phytonutrients, plant-based proteins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, as well as a wide spectrum of micronutrients.
If you find yourself at the mercy of your mood swings or just plain unhappy a lot of the time, take a look at what you are eating. Adding in some of the foods in the above tips can help give you a mood boost and get you smiling again.
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