The research is in. What you put in your mouth can provide a nice boost to your mood, or make you not to fun to be around. Researchers think brain foods such as those containing omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and important amino acids like tryptophan cause changes to some fats in brain membranes, helping certain chemicals to pass through. That’s what happened in the laboratory rats in a study at McLean Hospital, explains Chris Illiades, M.D., in a recent Everyday Health article.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Eating fatty fish like salmon, tuna, or trout, or walnuts might delay a meltdown by a day or two because they are rich in mood boosters, a.k.a omega-3 fatty acids, which affect brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. Oily fish like salmon are also full of vitamin B12, which can help the production of serotonin. According to a recent article by Chris Iliades, M.D., “Japanese researchers found that a diet high in fish protects people from depression and suicide, while in Finland a team of researchers surveyed 1,767 residents and concluded that eating fish more than twice a week has a protective effect against suicide and depression.”
In addition to Omega 3 fatty acids, Dr. Illiades mentions a few other vitamins and nutrients that play an important role in boosting our mood:
B vitamins. Studies suggest that if you have low levels of the B vitamin folic acid and high levels of a protein called homocysteine, you are more likely to be depressed. Folic acid, vitamin B2, B6, and B12 have all been shown to decrease levels of homocysteine. You can ensure you get enough B vitamins by eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and legumes.
Amino acids. Tryptophan is an important amino acid your body needs to make the brain chemical serotonin. Low levels of serotonin are believed to be a cause of depression. Several studies have shown that a diet high in tryptophan can improve depression. Tryptophan is found in foods high in protein, such as meat, fish, beans, and eggs.
Carbohydrates. All the carbohydrates you eat are broken down into sugar that your brain needs to function properly. However, eating too much sugar can cause peaks and valleys in your blood glucose levels that can cause or aggravate symptoms of depression. The best way to avoid these symptoms is to eat a diet low in refined carbohydrates and sugar and high in fruits and vegetables.
Published originally on Sanity Break at Everyday Health.
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