Eat To Beat the Blues
We’ve all turned to comfort food when we feel low or after a dreadful day. This may generally be high calorie and highly processed food; you know those amazingly frosted cupcakes with pearls and sprinkles. But while sugary and calorie rich treats make us feel better in the short term, they affect our health in the long-term and leads to further stress. So instead of reaching for whatever seems soothing, eat something that science proves to truly lift your spirits. Feeling blue? Having trouble focusing? Indulge in any of these mood-boosting super foods.
If you’re one of those individuals who get a mood boost whenever you sink your teeth into a bar of pure, unadulterated chocolate, it is not happenstance.
Eating dark chocolate every day for two weeks reduced stress hormones, including cortisol, in people who were highly stressed, reveals a study done at the Nestlé Research Center in Switzerland recently. “Polyphenols (antioxidants) in chocolate have contributed to the changes in stress in this study,” explains Douglas G. Mashek, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul.
There’s actually a chemical reason called anandamide, a neurotransmitter produced in the brain that temporarily blocks feelings of pain and depression. It’s a derivative of the word “bliss,” and one of the great things about chocolate is that it not only produces this compound, it also contains other chemicals that prolong the “feel-good” aspects of anandamide. Chocolate has even been referred to as “the new anti-anxiety drug.”
This dairy pick is packed with more calcium than you’ll find in milk or regular yogurt, and it can make you happy, too. Proper calcium levels give the “happiness” command, alerting your body to release feel-good neurotransmitters. “Disturbances in calcium levels can produce anxiety, depression, irritability, impaired memory, and slow thinking,” says Dr. Ramsey in The Happiness Diet. Plus, the probiotics help aid in digestion and can even ward off colds.
If you find yourself nervous or agitated for an unexplained reason, try reaching for an organic Greek yogurt from cows raised on grass pastures. Pastured dairy is higher in healthy fats, and, like grass-fed lamb, often contain higher levels of CLA, the healthy fat that reduces the effects of stress on the brain.
The anthocyanin antioxidants in rare but delicious! blue potatoes reduce inflammation that can lead to bad moods. Their skin is also packed with iodine, which helps stabilize thyroid hormone levels, thus warding off mood swings.
Gardens don’t have to be all about edibles, even though you can eat lavender. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, aromatherapy treatments involving lavender are used to supplement depression treatments because the scent is so universally relaxing. A new ingestible, natural lavender oil may be another simple strategy for taking the edge off occasional daily tensions.
“Randomized, placebo-controlled studies found that an orally administered lavender oil supplement may be as effective as some common interventions in managing the type of mild anxiety symptoms that we all encounter from time to time,” says naturopathic physician Dr. Don Brown, a leading authority on natural medicine. “It was also shown to improve sleep quality without causing any daytime drowsiness.”
Spinach and other Dark, Leafy Greens
No wonder Popeye was always happy. These iron-packed treats help boost your mood. Spinach and other green leafy vegetables affect neurotransmitters in the brain that release endorphins and help uplift your mood. Broccoli, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, rapini, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus and turnips contain glucosinolates, cancer-fighting phytonutrients that support cell growth and brain function. They also pack a vitamin B wallop which make you more energized, improves your appetite and aids in proper digestion, says Dr. Farris, co-author of The Sugar Detox
Eat a large portion of leafy green salad daily to induce serotonin production, and help reduce feelings of mild anxiety and irritability. According to Dr. Lamm, president of BCG Oncology in Phoenix, Arizona, serotonin relays signals from one area of the brain to another. “While this chemical is manufactured in the brain where it performs primary functions, most of your serotonin supply is found along the digestive tract, and that’s why it’s so important to make sure your body absorbs nutrients from the good food you eat,” he says.
Many of us will be fortunate enough to remember our mothers making us chicken soup to make us feel better on a sick day. As a deliciously soothing comfort food, nothing else comes close. But can such a broth actually possess health benefits? It’s all about ‘chicken soup for the soul’
It has long been known that chicken soup is a general tonic for all of life’s ailments. Well there’s actually some science to back it up. It makes you feel comforted and happy for a very good reason.
Dr. Stephen Rennard, MD at the University of Nebraska Medical Center says “Although it isn’t a cure for the common cold, the proof is in the pudding that it does indeed provide relief from the symptoms and help elevate mood.” When you’re tired or ill, your vitamins levels will have taken a dive. A bowl of chicken soup will help raise your vitamin levels and your mood. Chicken soup contains tryptophan, B6 and selenium. Tryptophan is an amino acid that aids the production of hormone serotonin and is used to help treat insomnia and depression. Whereas, B6 helps to calm stress and plays an important role in making neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin and selenium helps in the formation of neurotransmitters. So get ready to ‘kick the flu & beat the blues’ with chicken soup.