We’ve probably all heard the saying you are what you eat? What about you feel like what you eat? The bottom line is our food choices can impact our mood. This is because nutrients have the ability to impact our brain’s chemistry, which ultimately affects how we feel.
What’s Happening in the Brain
Foods that contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourish the brain while processed foods and sugars can impair brain function.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that impacts moods among other things. Most of your serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract which has many neurons in it. Because of that, the digestive system guides emotions while working to digest food.
How and What to Eat
How you eat can make as much of a difference as what you eat. Eating at regular intervals can keep your energy up and makes sure your body has enough fuel. Start your day with breakfast. Some research shows eating breakfast can lead to a better mood.
Eat a bit of each food group and make sure you’re getting enough nutrients.
Good Mood Foods
Foods with omega-3 fatty acids like fatty fish, flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts can sometimes help improve your mood.
Eat brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Consume foods close to how they appear in nature. For example, an apple is closer to nature than apple juice.
Fish, poultry, eggs, leafy greens, and legumes contain lots of dopamine, which is a feel-good chemical. They also contain protein which can help slow how your body absorbs carbohydrates, increasing the release of dopamine and norepinephrine.
Magnesium-rich foods like almonds and spinach can help you sleep better, which in turn can improve mood.
Selenium is also important for moods. Taking too much selenium can be toxic, so try to get yours from food instead of supplements. Seafood, nuts and seeds, lean meats, whole grains, beans and legumes, and low-fat dairy products are selenium-rich.
Vitamin D comes from sunlight and it is also in milk, egg yolks, and soymilk. Keep an eye out for foods that contain folate and vitamin B-12. Vitamin D is important for your mood.
Fiber can slow down how the body absorbs sugar and increases serotonin. There is a lot of fiber in oats, beans, pears, peas, and brussel sprouts.
Fluids help the body flush bad things out, so be sure to drink lots of water each day.
Foods to Reduce
Some processed foods can lead to higher insulin levels and increase inflammation.
Try to avoid foods with added sugars and refined carbohydrates. Candy, soda, juices, and jams can cause blood sugar spikes, impacting mood. The same goes for refined starches like white bread, rice, and crackers.
Limit caffeine intake since too much caffeine can keep you awake at night and impact your mood. It provides a quick boost of energy but then suddenly drops off.
The professionals at B3 Medical can help you figure out what you should be eating. Nutrition counselors will help you through assessments to analyze your specific health needs.
Start your journey to better nutrition by contacting us today.
When our lives get busy and stress takes over, we tend to indulge in comfort foods. Most comfort foods don’t actually reduce your level of stress, however, there are some foods that can.
Vitamins and Minerals
Foods that are high in vitamin C can help give your immune system a boost when you’re stressed. They can also help lower cortisol levels in your body, which is the stress hormone. Oranges, berries, kale, peppers, and kiwi have a lot of vitamin C in them. Blueberries contain a lot of vitamin C and other antioxidants.
Magnesium is also good for handling stress. Low levels of magnesium can cause bad moods, fatigue, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Leafy green vegetables like spinach contain a lot of magnesium. Beans and brown rice have a lot, too.
Folate is also important because it helps produce dopamine, the brain’s pleasure chemical. Spinach and other leafy greens contain a lot of folate. Asparagus is another good source of folate.
Avocados also have a lot of folate and other vitamins and minerals in them like B vitamins which help keep nerves and brain cells healthy. They also contain a lot of potassium which helps keep blood pressure low.
Oatmeal is a complex carb that doesn’t spike blood sugar because the body digests it slowly.
It’s also warm and comforting. Add some berries and nuts and it could be a good way to help your brain generate serotonin, a destressing neurotransmitter.
Make it with milk and increase the stress-relieving powers. Milk contains a lot of antioxidants and B vitamins. The protein lactium has a calming effect on the body and there is also a lot of potassium in a glass of milk.
Nuts and Seeds
The hand-occupying task of shelling nuts can help reduce stress in some ways, but the nuts inside also have stress-relieving benefits.
Pistachios contain phytonutrients that help support cardiovascular health.
Almonds also contain a lot of vitamins B2 and E which help the immune system during stressful times.
Cashews contain a lot of zinc, a mineral that helps reduce anxiety. They also contain a lot of omega-3s and protein. But cashews and other nuts also have a lot of calories, so eat them in moderation.
Flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds contain a lot of magnesium.
This is the advice we’ve all been waiting for. A bite of dark chocolate can help reduce stress hormones. Dark chocolate also contains antioxidants that can help lower blood pressure and improve circulation. Look for the kinds of dark chocolate that have at least 70 percent cocoa. Remember, a bite, not the entire bar.
What to Avoid
To keep stress levels regulated, avoid refined sugars. They give a quick boost of energy and then a sugar low follows. The same happens with white carbs like potato chips, flour, bread, and pasta.
Caffeine can also cause jitters, heart palpitations, and insomnia if stress levels are already high. Opt for decaf or herbal teas instead. Many herbal teas can help reduce stress hormones.
If you need help reaching your nutritional goals, the professionals at B3 Medical can help. Contact us today.
It’s a new year and that often means new weight loss goals. How do you stick to them and stay on track?
Saying you’re going to work out many hours each day or only eat lettuce isn’t an idea you’re going to stick to. Set up a goal you can achieve and plan for it.
Make a list of things you can do each day to help you achieve your goal along with milestones you want to hit. Don’t forget to include increasing energy and stamina as part of your plan. They go along with weight loss.
Think about what the goals are before the clock strikes midnight on the 31st. Outline your plan so you know what you want to achieve and how you are going to do it. Stay away from making too broad of goal like saying you want to get in shape. That’s difficult to measure progress so it might be difficult to stay motivated. Goals should be both measurable and achievable.
Be careful of the words always and never as in “I will always eat healthy” and “I will never eat badly.” Thinking of diet as a pattern of eating and striving to make good choices most of the time might be a good way of looking at things.
Talk About Your Plans
Fill people in with your plans. If others know about them, they can support you and help you reach your goals. If someone else shares your same goals, work together to support each other. Reaching out to others is a good way to hold yourself accountable.
Keep track of your progress so you can stay motivated. Seeing even small positive results is a great way to stay focused.
Reassess your successes along the way and amend your goals if necessary. Small and specific goals can always become bigger as you move along.
Remember, progress is more than just a number on a scale. Healthier habits, better sleep, and lower body fat all mean you’re doing something right. Look at it as making lifelong changes for better health, not as losing weight after the holidays.
Having healthy foods in the house is a good way to keep making healthy choices. Don’t wait to go buy food until you’re hungry. That’s when everything looks good. When you go to the grocery store, buy enough snacks for the whole week so you won’t need to go to the office snack machine.
Get creative. If your resolution feels like a chore, you won’t stick to it. Eating the same meal every night is boring. Look for new meals you can make that fit within the parameters you set for your diet. The same goes for the workout part. The same routine every day gets old. Mix it up.
Be Nice to Yourself
If you slip, don’t obsess. Try your best and reward your successes. Maybe buy yourself something new or do something else you enjoy. Don’t wait until you reach the big goal you set. Celebrate milestones along the way.
It takes about three weeks for a new activity to become a habit, so things don’t happen overnight. If you lose your focus, recommit yourself. Resolutions don’t just have to happen on January 1.
If you need some advice about healthy eating or best ways to exercise, B3 Medical can help. We have nutrition counseling and other medical services available for the whole family. Learn more about our nutrition counseling.