What we eat affects our mood. Microorganisms produce numerous neurochemicals. These neurochemicals made by gut bacteria play a role in our mood and other neurologic functions.
Another toxicant linked to depression is aspartame, a chemical used in artificial sweeteners. Aspartame is broken down into smaller molecules that decrease serotonin. Serotonin is an important neurochemical messenger that regulates appetite and mood.
Nutritional epigenetics is a two-way street: some foods promote health and others promote disease. To avoid the latter, you should steer away from foods that make you feel depressed such as alcohol, caffeine and high-calorie low-nutrient foods. Here's why:
Alcohol: Although the occasional drink is fine, people should limit their alcoholic intake. Heavy alcohol consumption is associated with anxiety and panic attacks; excessive drinking also depletes serotonin, which makes people prone to anxiety and depression.
Caffeine: Caffeinated beverages lower serotonin and increase the risk of anxiety, depression and poor sleep.
High-Calorie, Low Nutrient Foods: When you eat processed, refined sugars, you enjoy a momentary high-energy jolt. Eating sweets raises blood sugar level, increases fat storage, and promotes a crash-and-burn feeling. Maintaining a steady blood sugar level is important to achieve even-keeled energy levels.
To eat your way to being healthier, consume epigenetic foods that promote wellness, improve sleep, and elevate your mood. For example, serotonin is a feel-good hormone that uplifts your mood and helps you to sleep better. Eat foods such as chickpeas, which are rich in tryptophan, a precursor of serotonin. Balance your mood and prevent depression by also eating the following foods:
Vitamin B12 and folate prevent mood disorders and dementia. Foods such as beetroot, lentils, almonds, spinach and liver are high in folate. Chicken, fish and liver are high in Vitamin B12.
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with different mood disorders. Sources: sun exposure, breakfast cereals, breads, juices, milk, high-quality supplements.
Selenium decreases depression and can be found in cod, Brazil nuts, walnuts and poultry.
Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for cognitive and behavioural function. Low levels of omega-3 fats lead to many health problems including mood swings and depression. It is present in cod, haddock, salmon, halibut, nut oils, and algae as well as high-quality supplements.
Dark chocolate enhances mood by increasing endorphins in the brain that promote a sense of well-being.
There are many healthy foods that act as antidepressants. While these good-mood foods are essential for your diet, there’s still more that you can do. Get in the habit of participating regularly in physical activity. Exercise increases your metabolism, enhances mood, and alleviates tension.