How Food affects our mood – The right nutrition to beat depression
As we all know, many people seek emotional comfort in food, when feeling down. But many people experience just the opposite. Instead of comfort, the food makes them feel worse, listless, moody and fatigued.
Researchers are still uncertain about the connection between food and mood. According to studies, for some individuals diet can cause depression. What you eat can lift your mood, but if you eat the wrong food, it can put you down. On the other side, what you don’t eat can have as great an impact as what you do eat.
The Food-Mood Factor
About 100 billion nerve cells in our brain, called neurons, control everything we do. Everything from thinking and feeling to talking a walk. Neurons use neurotransmitters in order to communicate which each other. These brain chemicals are called serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
Apart from communication, these chemicals also can have a significant effect on our mood. For example, if we are in need of serotonin, depression and insomnia and food cravings may result. On the other hand, when serotonin levels are high, we can experience feelings of calm and well-being. When levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in our brains are changed, it can have similar results.
Fish can have a positive effect on our mood. It’s for good reason that Charlie the Tuna always looks happy! Tuna and other oily cold-water fish, are the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which, according to studies, are linked to lower rates of depression.
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may be beneficial to good mental health. Experts recommend having two servings of fish with high omega-3 content, such as salmon, sardines, and Spanish mackerel. Other sources include canola oil and flax-seed oil.
Recent research has found that omega-3 boost moods even in non-depressed people. Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh measured the levels of omega-3 in the blood of 106 healthy adults. After giving them psychological tests, they found that the people with the highest omega-3 levels in their blood scored 49% – 58% better in the test than the people with the lowest omega-3 levels.
Carbohydrates’ calming effect
Diets high in carbohydrates showed a rise in the brain concentrations of the amino acid tryptophan. The tryptophan is converted in our body to serotonin. That may be the reason why, for many people, comfort foods that are high in carbohydrates can lower feelings of depression. For others, who don’t eat as many carbohydrates, may make them grouchy and depressed. Some people, of course, can eat loads of pasta, potatoes, and bread without noticing any difference.
But for others, known by scientists as carbohydrate cravers, the effects can be quite significant. It could be that carbohydrate cravings are the result of the body’s attempt to counteract low serotonin levels. Many people who eat spaghetti with marinara sauce and French bread for lunch get sleepy because that carbohydrate-rich meal raises their serotonin levels.
Controlling mood swings
It’s a well-known fact that some people experience mood swings at certain times. For some women, it’s just before their menstrual periods. And some people, they now found out, can improve their moods during low times by eating more carbohydrates.
In a research study conducted at Harvard University. Women suffering from premenstrual mood swings were asked to drink about 7 ½ ounces of a specially formulated high-carbohydrate drink once a month. Just before their periods. Within hours of having the drink, they experience significant reductions in depression, anger, and confusion, the researchers found.
You can get a similar amount of carbohydrate like the women in the study by eating a small portion of high-carbohydrate food. Like a cup of whole-wheat pasta, some baked potatoes or a half-cup of raisins.
When feeling depressed
You probably know from experience that droopy, let-down feeling that sometimes occurs after drinking a large cappuccino or binging on your favorite cookies. It’s a reality. “Consuming too much sugar or caffeine definitely contributes to feelings of depression for sensitive individuals,” says Dr. Christensen. Experts aren’t sure sugar gives some people the blues, but it may be related to the amount you consume, says Dr. Christensen. While indulging in an occasional candy bar or doughnut can trigger a “sugar buzz” that temporarily boosts your spirits. A steady diet of sugar seems to be linked with depression.
Dr. Christensen and a colleague led a study, in which 20 people with serious depression were asked to cut all sugar and caffeine from their diets. After 3 weeks, these people were significantly less depressed.
Although the effects of caffeine on mood haven’t been studied extensively. There’s evidence that cutting back on coffee or other high-caffeine drinks may lift your spirits. Especially if you usually drink it a lot.
Doctor’s advice. “Have a bit of chocolate,” says Jennifer Ramos Galluzzi, Ph.D., of Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, Connecticut. “In small amounts, it’s a mood booster.” And who is going to argue with that?
Article Source: Amazines