Cranky? It might be the food you eat
Keep your day (and your body) going with this healthy guide to energy-boosting foods.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - 19:11
Photo: Karla Akins
Feeling stressed? Before reaching for anti-anxiety medications, try eating foods that boost serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps you stay calm.
1) According to Dr. Oz, the brain is 60% fat and needs omega-3 fats to function optimally. Eating fatty fish such as salmon 2-3 times a week will make a happier you. Not only will you feel happier, but your memory will improve and you’ll keep dementia at bay.
2) Another food to help calm your nerves is tryptophan-rich turkey. Tryptophan is a natural relaxant and can also be found in sesame seeds, peanut butter, chicken, bananas, soy, cheese, milk and nuts.
3) How is your Vitamin D intake? Studies show that depression is linked to a deficiency in Vitamin D — the sunshine vitamin. If you're stuck indoors most of the day, you're probably deficient in this vitamin that helps regulate brain neurotransmitters serotonin, melatonin and dopamine. The RDA (recommended daily allowance) of Vitamin D is 600 IU. One cup of mushrooms exposed to UV light contains 100 percent of the RDA of vitamin D. Spending 15 minutes a day in the sun can also provide you with your daily allowance of the D vitamin.
Vitamin D is also good for slowing aging; fighting colon, prostate and breast cancer; building strong bones and fighting off colds. According to Len Horovitz, MD, vitamin D also prevents autoimmune-related connective tissue diseases such as type 1 diabetes and lupus. Horovitz claims that vitamin D promotes wound healing, and boosts the immune system. Studies show that patients with immune lung disorders are deficient in vitamin D.
4) Vitamin B1 and B12 are known as the "good mood" vitamins. A deficiency in these vitamins can trigger depression and/or anxiety. New studies show that vitamin B also keeps the brain from shrinking, improves memory and staves off Alzheimer's disease. Take vitamin B supplements or eat foods rich in B vitamins such as leafy greens, legumes, oranges, rice, nuts and eggs.
5) When reaching for carbohydrates, choose whole grains such as brown rice or whole wheat bread. Whole grains contain antioxidants such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, beta-carotene, copper, zinc and manganese — all anti-stress nutrients. Avoid processed carbs such as candy, sugar and white bread. These create a spike and a plunge of sugar levels which leads to lethargy and depression.
6) Keep your diet heavy on the protein side. Greek yogurt, fish, meats, eggs, nuts and beans are excellent mood-boosters because they stimulate the brain chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine which improve alertness and mental energy.
7) Many of us are addicted to coffee and sodas, but caffeine actually inhibits the levels of serotonin in the brain and causes irritability. It can keep you awake which in turn can lead to weight gain, and depression. It's also a diuretic and even mild dehydration can cause depression.
Alcohol should also be avoided to stave off depression. If you drink, you should do so in moderation.
8) Dr. Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, says that processed foods such as hot dogs can cause anxiety and depression. Researchers in London studied people who ate mostly fried food, processed meats, desserts and high-fat dairy products and discovered they had a 58 percent higher risk of depression than those who ate "whole" foods such as fish and vegetables. If you struggle with depression, skip the processed foods and fill your pantry with fresh food from the garden or farmers market.
Photos: Wikimedia Commons