By Sierra Buckley, DIY Cleanse Intern
It’s 5:50pm on a Tuesday, and I am busting through the front door of my home headed straight for the box of crackers in the pantry! Totally starved after a long day, it’s apparent that my burnt-out state of mind is affecting my food choices and eating habits. A poor mood leads to poor food choices, and the cycle continues. Not only does mood affect your food, but the opposite is true as well.
The brain in your belly
Did you know that the gut sends more messages to the brain than the brain sends to the gut? These messages can impact emotions, moods, ability to focus, and decision making.
Of all the organs in the body, the gut is the only one that operates under its own brain, as opposed to following the commands of the brain in our head. With over 100 million neurons, it’s no wonder the gut has been nicknamed the “second brain”!
The gut produces more hormones than any other part of the body and has a strong influence on serotonin, a well-known mood booster. Research suggests that foods that irritate the GI tract may affect our mental state, putting a damper on our mood. No wonder the white flour, sugar laden cupcakes leave me with a headache! Tuning into the gut could be a key component to reducing stress, depression, or anxiety.
MOOD BOOSTING FOODS
Roots and fruits
Eating root vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and other complex carbohydrates enhance the production of serotonin (happiness chemical!). These foods also help stabilize blood sugar, lifting our energy and mood and fending off that dreaded energy slump. Mood boosting fruits include bananas, mangoes, and berries. Choose carrots or sweet potatoes as your root vegetables.
Studies have shown that a diet rich in selenium may reduce depression. Selenium is found in chicken, turkey, fish, nuts and seeds, and beans and legumes. Fish and nuts are also great sources of omega-3 fatty acids which, like selenium, are also known to ease feelings of depression. Go for a cold water, wild-caught fatty fish, like salmon. Brazil nuts and walnuts are good choice for omega-3 rich nuts.
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt, and kombucha contain friendly bacteria that are vital to a healthy gut. These beneficial bacteria keep your digestion functioning smoothly, and as food affects mood, you may find your feelings of happiness increase due to the regulation of your serotonin levels by fermented foods.
MOOD BUSTING FOODS
High sugar foods and white flour products will spike our blood sugar levels, giving us a temporary high before a sudden swift kick to our mood and energy. These processed foods feed the bad bacteria in our body, putting us at risk of an imbalance in our gut flora, which is a vital part of keeping our mind and body healthy and happy. Being low in nutrient value, processed foods compromise our digestion, leaving us unsatisfied and tired. If you want to elevate your mood and energy levels, stay away from processed foods.
So, the next time you find yourself reaching for the box of crackers, remember that you can break the bad mood-bad food cycle by reaching for a banana instead!