You are what you eat. And what you eat can have a significant impact on how you feel. Eating a donut may be enjoyable for a few brief moments, but it won’t make you feel as good as fresh fruit for breakfast. But you can’t just eat fresh fruit and vegetables all day, because that gets boring, too. So here are some foods you can eat that can improve your mood (and still taste really, really good).
Bacon – You read that correctly. Bacon is not only delicious, but also contains amino acids which are associated with reducing anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.
Coffee – Did you know that your next cup of joe can raise your dopamine levels? Low levels of dopamine in the brain are associated with depression and anxiety. In addition, coffee can help alert the brain to dopamine signals. Coffee can have different effects on different people, so pay attention to your body’s response to caffeine. For some, caffeine can make people feel more anxious and jittery.
Turkey – Like dopamine, low levels of serotonin in the brain have been linked to depression and suicide. But when you eat turkey, the tryptophan (that’s the stuff that makes you sleepy) is converted into serotonin. When you eat turkey on an empty stomach, you can replenish serotonin levels in the brain.
Sweet Potatoes, Eggs, Rice, Fruits, Vegetables, and Beans – What do these all have in common? They’re gluten-free. And there’s a theory that contends that the damage from gluten in our digestive tracts could allow substances to leak from our stomach and travel to our brain, causing depression. It’s more acute in those with celiac disease, but it’s also been linked to those without celiac disease. Eat these gluten-free foods not just because they’re healthy, but because they also could have mood-boosting effects.
Wine – In moderation, two glasses of red wine every day has been shown to reduce depression symptoms. A recent study had participants eat a healthy diet that included two glasses of wine and saw a marked improvement how people felt. But moderation is key as excessive drinking can exacerbate symptoms.
Fats and Carbs – Believe it or not, fat is an essential part of a healthy diet—as long as they’re healthy fats like egg yolks and olive oil. Good fats have been associated with lowering rates of depression and anxiety. Like good fats, choosing carbohydrates with a low glycemic index or are high in fiber can help you avoid crashing in the middle of the day. In fact, diets low in carbohydrates have been linked to depression symptoms.
Nutrition isn’t just for your physical well-being. It’s for your mental well-being, too. Incorporate these foods into your diet to eat and feel better.
Dr. Sonja Stilp delivers innovative, individualized physical medicine and rehabilitation with a focus on spine and sports medicine at RISE. If you want to learn about ways exercise and diet can boost your lifestyle, schedule an appointment to meet with her. Eating smart is just as important as training smart.