Using Food to Boost Mood
It is no secret that mental health issues have been on the rise this last year. And while medications have an important role, there is also a lot that food can do to boost mood.
Many human neurotransmitters can be found in plants, including serotonin, melatonin and tryptophan. Fruit is a particularly good source of serotonin, especially in strawberries, tomatoes, pineapple, bananas, kiwis, plums or plantain. One serving of strawberries or tomatoes has enough serotonin to make a small difference.
Likewise, melatonin is in white or black mustard and fenugreek, and tryptophan is found in peanuts, beans, potatoes, soy and cottage cheese.
On the other end of the spectrum, fast foods and sugar have been linked to higher rates of depression. This has been argued as a chicken and egg phenomena- after all, doesn't depression also drive us to the sugar or junk food at times? While that is true, there have been enough studies done to also show causation.
As a holistic nutritionist, I encourage my clients with mild symptoms to start with a food and lifestyle approach as medications bring side effects and can sometimes be difficult to wean off of. Interestingly, saffron has shown itself to be just as effective as Prozac in managing depression, so that is another great natural alternative to discuss with your therapist if food alone is not making a difference. And of course, plants alone will not be enough for everyone, so honor what your body and mind need to feel balanced and whole.
Finally, remember that changes in mood day to day are normal, especially in a pandemic. But if you find yourself consistently low or if mood is interfering with your ability to function in your work, family or relationships, seek additional resources through a therapist or psychologist.
Have you noticed the impact that particular foods can have on your mood?