When you feel good, you well … feel good and are more likely to be on the right road for how to live a happier life. In other words we tend to be happier when we are energetic, free from physical ailments, not over stressed, and able to be productive and enjoy life. As Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, Harvard Medical School associate professor of cardiovascular medicine, points out that if you eat healthy with a balanced diet of a variety of healthy foods, you are more likely to achieve this state. Food is also linked to your mood as demonstrated by the findings of studies like one in 2011 in US News & World Report that found changes in the chemical and physiological state of the brain from eating certain foods.
Foods For a Healthy Life
You probably know that a healthy balanced diet includes lean protein sources, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats. But within these categories there are certain foods that really stand out. These foods have nutrients that experts find really support physical and mental health and give us a boost towards being happier.
Iron is a must for getting oxygen to your cells for energy production. Spinach is one of the top ways to get iron into your diet. You can also look for iron fortified cereals, soybeans, white beans, and lentils. And pairing foods with iron with those with vitamin C will help you absorb the iron more readily.
Essential Amino Acids
Amino acids are necessary for the body to perform all its metabolic functions. They allow nutrients such as water, fat, carbs, proteins, minerals and vitamins to be stored or delivered to the various cells in the body, allow cells to communicate and get the energy they need, support enzymatic chemical reactions, mood, concentration and sleep, and impact the amount of oxygen and circulation that occur in the body. There are over 500 identified amino acids, but only 22 of those are needed to build proteins that are necessary for muscle building and for life to exist. These are categorized as either an “essential” or “non-essential” amino acid. An essential amino acid is not one that is more necessary or important than a non-essential amino acid, but is one that the body cannot produce on its own and therefore has to come from foods we eat. Quinoa is an especially good complex carbohydrate for getting the 9 amino acids categorized as essential. Other good food sources for amino acids include grass fed beef, dairy, wild caught seafood, sea vegetables, spirulina, brewers yeast and some vegetables such as cabbage, beets, beans, and spinach. AFA bluegreen algae also has all the amino acids our bodies need, including phenylalanine, an amino acid that crosses the blood-brain barrier faster than any other amino acid.
The body also needs magnesium to produce energy. This mineral is also involved with hundreds of other body functions including muscle relaxation, overall body calm, and contributing to a soothing mood. Peas, beans, peanuts, green vegetables such as spinach, cereals and grains such as brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal and bran, lentils, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, cashews, almonds, halibut, and fruits such as bananas and figs are all food sources for magnesium. Once your body has absorbed the magnesium it needs, the rest is released often in the form of diarrhea so watch for this symptom to know you have had enough. More active people may need more than those who aren’t as active as you can lose magnesium by sweating.
Serotonin Boosting Foods
Serotonin is the brain chemical that produces feelings of calmness and happiness, reduces cravings for unhealthy foods, aids sleep, and regulates mood. Some of the best foods for boosting serotonin are walnuts and complex carbohydrates like whole grains. Whole grains have tryptophan to help in producing serotonin and fiber to help stabilize blood sugar levels which also gives you more energy. AFA bluegreen algae not only has the amino acids your body needs, but gives you the extra bonus of increasing the production of mood-elevating substances in the brain, including tryptophan, endorphins, serotonin, and PEA.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
According to Matthew F. Muldoon, MD, University of Pittsburgh professor of medicine and psychology, people with low levels of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids have been found to be more irritable, moody and more prone to worry. Findings from research at the University of Maryland Medical Center report a lack of omega-3 as contributing to mood swings and depression. Adding salmon, tuna, and other fatty fish to your diet can help you get the omega-3 fatty acids into your diet to help stabilize mood. You can also get more omega-3’s by using canola oil, soybean oil, olive oil, flaxseeds and oil, and pumpkin seeds. An easy way to get the exact ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids is by eating AFA bluegreen algae. And since omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for keeping your brain healthy, this form of algae with the cell wall removed is perfect for being able to easily pass through the blood brain barrier.
Folate or B-9 aids the brain in producing serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine which are all brain chemicals affecting mood. Low levels of Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B-12 have been found contribute to depression. B vitamins also help keep nerve and brain cells healthy. You can get B vitamins from lean meats, beans, breads, lentils, egg yolks, fish, liver, dairy products, nuts, peanut butter, whole grains, and poultry. Folate in particular can be found in dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach and in Brussel sprouts, beans such as pinto and garbanzo, asparagus, peanuts, soybeans, liver, lentils and sunflower seeds. Foods high in Vitamin B6 include papaya, oranges, tuna, chicken, turkey, rice, wheat bran, garlic, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. We can also replenish the body’s natural supply of B vitamins by replacing the probiotics or “friendly bacteria” in our intestines. These friendly bacteria produce the B vitamins in our bodies and taking probiotic supplements like acidophilus and bifidus can give the body a boost to keep producing these vitamins.
Another must for a healthy diet is to include foods with antioxidants. These foods help fight off damage to your body cells caused by free radical damage and support your immune system function to fight off diseases. Antioxidants can help you with a variety of health conditions especially as we get older such as wrinkles, cancer, heart disease, macular degeneration, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, creaky joints, aches and pains, fatigue, and cataracts. And after all, the better we look and feel, the happier we are. As antioxidants protect our body cells this includes our natural adult stem cells that help regenerate damaged cells and heal injuries. One of the best ways to get antioxidants into your diet is to include a variety of bright colored vegetables and fruits. Even easier is to use this algae/antioxidant wholefoods supplement that gives you antioxidant ingredients that can provide nutrition for stem cells to reproduce.
Looking for how to live a happier life? It all starts in your kitchen. Take a look at the types of foods you have in yours. If you are missing some of the key foods we’ve listed here, then it’s time to find your nearest farmer’s market or grocery store and re-stock. Adding the right foods to your healthy eating plan will help you feel better, look better and be happier.
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