We have all heard the saying "You are what you eat." This common phrase implies that the types of foods you consume directly correlate with your outer appearance. But your food affects your body in more ways than one.
Researchers have conducted experiments and studies to discover how foods make an impact on a person's mood. There are several main components in foods that can have a large effect on your feelings throughout the day. Some may surprise you. Here are five foods that make you happy and five foods that make you sad.
Let's start with the good news first.
Not only does this leafy green make you strong like Popeye, but two components play a huge role in boosting your mood to keep you from becoming depressed: folic acid and magnesium. Consume at least two cups of spinach to satisfy your daily folic acid needs and you'll stay focused and concentrated all day long with a good mood. You can easily add spinach to a salad, sauté for a simple side at dinner or blend into a smoothie if a vegetable smoothie is your thing.
My mom always gave me a handful of walnuts before every test day when I was in grade school, and now I know why. Walnuts have omega-3 fatty acids that can improve your motor and behavioral skills and make you feel smarter and more alert, and can battle against depression to improve your mood. Of course, just like every other nut, walnuts are high in fat and calories, so you need to consume them in moderate amounts if you don't want to take in more calories than you need throughout the day. Simply add a tablespoon or two to your oatmeal in the morning, have as a snack at the office for a boost in energy when that 3 o'clock lull comes around or use as a crust on a piece of fish for dinner.
Seafood is filled with selenium, which fights against anxiety and depression and helps significantly with being clearheaded, confident and composed. Not only is seafood a lean protein to consume if you're trying to eat healthier, but it helps keep you levelheaded. Add some more fish, shrimp and other shellfish to your diet to fight against being anxious or depressed.
2. Green Tea
While caffeine may increase your stress level, green tea has theanine, an ingredient that keeps you calm, cool and collected. Rather than indulging in a sugary caffeinated beverage, sit down with a cup of warm green tea to keep you relaxed. The comfort of a warm cup of tea can calm your nerves pretty quickly.
Although turkey gets a bad rep for making you sleepy because of the tryptophan, studies have shown that tryptophan increases the production of serotonin, which helps calm your brain and fight against depression as well as other disorders associated with your mood. The added bonus of protein also keeps you alert and energetic. Of course, you don't want to calm yourself down to the point you want to take a nap, but a turkey sandwich at lunchtime isn't a bad choice.
Now for the foods that make you sad.
Yes, green tea is a drink that makes you happy, but other caffeinated beverages, coupled with lots of sugar, make you feel more anxious and tense. Decrease your sugary caffeinated beverages to less than two a day to stop feeling anxious or tense; you can even maintain a balanced sleep cycle.
4. High-Sugar Treats
There's a reason we crash after having a lot of sugary treats like cupcakes, cakes, doughnuts and cookies. Your blood sugar goes high, giving you a headache, then you crash. Sugary treats are simple carbohydrates with a high glycemic index, making the sugar act fast, then stop, causing you to feel sluggish and tired. The combination of sugar and white flour in foods acts like a mood depressant, so be wary of those doughnuts before work, or you'll be tired and sluggish for the rest of the day.
3. Fried Foods
Many of us probably associate our comfort foods with fried chicken, fried catfish, fried Oreos or anything else that's fried. It may taste good while you're consuming it, but eating foods high in trans fats causes your brain to not work to its full potential and can increase your risk of being depressed if such foods are heavily consumed over time. Not to mention the fact that fried foods take hours to digest, so you're looking at hours of feeling sluggish.
2. Alcohol As delightful as alcoholic beverages taste going down, along with the wonderful buzz they can deliver, over time, heavy consumption of them may lead to depression. Alcohol is a depressant, after all. If you're looking for a boost in your mood, you might think about limiting or stopping your consumption of alcohol altogether. Yes, we know, but still.
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1. Potato Chips
We all love eating out of a bag of potato chips. However, the oils with omega-6 fatty acids that many potato chips are fried in block the omega-3 fatty acids that boost your mood and help your brain to function at optimal levels. Choose something like popcorn or baked fresh potatoes instead of the processed and fried chips that stop you from feeling happy.