How Are our Foods and Moods Related?
You’ve probably read articles about “happy foods.” In brief, our bodies and minds use good foods as the fuel for all our functioning. As the food goes through our miraculous digestive system – our “gut” – we are on to the business of our day, usually not thinking about how the body is continuously breaking down, transforming and making intelligent use of our food intake. We are used to taking these precious biological processes for granted.
Now our awareness is growing, our knowledge is deepening, and our will toward better health is trending upward. New studies point to profound relationships between our gut and our brain. Our gut has a complex nervous system of its own which communicates constantly with the brain, and the balance of the bacteria in the gut plays an essential role in regulating our mood and behavior. While we are going about our daily routines, our gut bacteria secrete essential substances that the body uses to form the chemical messengers to the brain. These mood regulators include neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, melatonin, norepinephrine and epinephrine, and amino acids which are part of stress hormones such as cortisol and endorphins. The balance of bacteria in our gut is called the microbiome, and this balance has a direct influence on our mood and behavior. Healthy eating helps our mental health. Read more about this here:
Happy Foods: What is a Mentally Healthy Diet?
“All things in moderation” continues to be sound advice. At the same time, there are some categories of foods that especially add value to the balance of a healthy gut and brain functioning:
1) Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds
2) Whole grains
3) Lean protein
4) Leafy greens
5) Yogurt with active cultures
Other super foods include avocados, berries, dark chocolate, fruits, vegetables, and unsaturated fats.
Read more about these foods at: Healthy Gut, Healthy Mind: 5 Foods to Improve Mental Health
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