The Guardian
Email YouTube Facebook Instagram Twitter
Everything you need to live well

Feeling down? Lift your mood with these foods

By Edirin Moses 16 September 2017   |   3:47 am

To beat depression and have a more hopeful, positive attitude to life, rather than reach for antidepressant drugs that can have side effects, you can boost your mood by natural means. One way is through your diet.

Certain foods contain the protein building-block, tryptophan, which the body uses to make serotonin, a chemical that plays a vital role in depression.

Serotonin is regarded by researchers as a chemical that is responsible for maintaining mood balance and that a deficit of serotonin leads to depression.  Thus, serotonin is often referred to as the “happy hormone.”

Besides diet, exercise can help combat depression, as physical activity has been known to have mood boosting qualities.

Note that if your depression is extremely severe, such as clinical depression that can lead to suicidal thoughts, you should seek medical help immediately.

Here are the top mood boosting foods that can help improve your mood and overall wellbeing. Happy chomping! 

Bananas
There’s more to bananas than just a sweet fruit you take as a snack or part of your diet. Rich in vitamins, minerals and other beneficial compounds, bananas can also serve as a natural remedy for treating depression, promoting regularity, boosting brain power and calming the nerves, among other important functions within the body.

Eating bananas can help relieve depression and improve one’s mood as they contain tryptophan, the same compound in turkey meat that promotes a calm, relaxed mood.

Turkey, chicken and soybeans
You can get the same mood-boosting effect you get from bananas from eating turkey, chicken, soybeans and other plant sources of protein.

Brazil Nuts
This snack is rich in selenium, which helps protect your body from tiny, damaging particles called free radicals. One study found that young people who didn’t have enough of this nutrient in their diets were more likely to be depressed. The researchers couldn’t say that low selenium caused depression, though. Just one Brazil nut has almost half your daily requirement of the mineral, so be careful to limit how many you eat. Other foods with this mineral include brown rice, lean beef, sunflower seeds, and seafood.

Carrots
They’re full of beta-carotene, which you can also get from pumpkin, spinach, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe. Studies have linked this nutrient to lower levels of depression. There’s not enough evidence to say that it can prevent the disorder, but it can’t hurt to get more in your diet.

Coffee
A jolt of caffeine can be a pick-me-up that helps you feel more motivated. But if you have postpartum depression or panic disorder, some studies suggest that it might make your symptoms worse. Other researchers say a cup of coffee can lower your risk of getting depression, though they’re not sure why.

Leafy Greens
They’re packed with folate, which your brain cells need to work well and which may help protect against depression. Food manufacturers in the US add this vitamin, also known as B9, to enriched grains like pasta and rice. You can also get it from lentils, lima beans and asparagus.

Salmon
This and other fish like herring and tuna are high in polyunsaturated fats. Researchers think those can help you fight depression. One type of these fats, called omega-3 fatty acids, may help brain cells use chemicals that can affect your mood. A few small studies show that people who were not depressed had higher levels of omega-3s than those with the mood disorder.

Clams and Mussels
These seafood favorites are a good source of B-12. Some studies say that people with low levels of the vitamin are more likely to have depression. It may be that a lack of it causes a shortage of a substance called s-adenosylmethionine (SAM), which your brain needs to process other chemicals that affect your mood. If you’re looking for other B-12 foods, try lean beef, milk, and eggs.

Milk
It’s a good source of vitamin D. If you have very low levels of this nutrient in your body, that can sometimes cause depression. One Norwegian study found that people who took a vitamin D supplement were less depressed a year later than those who didn’t. Don’t like milk? Boost the D in your diet with enriched cereals and juices, and canned fish.

Caution: Alcohol
It might seem like just the thing to take the edge off your worries or make you feel more social. But most of the time, it’s best if you drink wine, beer, and mixed drinks only in moderation. You might feel better in the moment, but heavy drinking can make depression symptoms worse over time, because alcohol makes your brain less active. It can also make antidepressant medications less effective.

Caution: Junk Food
It may be fast and filling, but these processed foods can be bad news for your mood. Scientists have studied how diets high in sugar, simple carbohydrates, and fatty foods affect how you feel. Many found some link between these unhealthy eats and depression. Your best bet: a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.


Related