We all know that what we eat can impact our health, but did you know that your diet and your emotional health go hand in hand as well?
While there’s definitely more to emotions than food, there’s plenty of evidence that shows the impact that foods can have on mood. For instance, food allergies or intolerances can leave you feeling tired and worn out, while vitamins and mineral deficiencies and a low intake of fatty acids and omega-3s can contribute to altered moods or even mimic a number of mental health issues.
On the other hand, eating well-balanced meals will give you energy, and certain nutrients can impact your metabolism, hormones, and neurotransmitters (mood chemicals that are produced in the brain). According to Dr. Nishi Dhawan, co-founder of the Westcoast Women’s Clinic in Vancouver, these can influence our emotions, concentration, and energy.
This isn’t to say that eating a healthy dose of fruit and veggies once a day will cure depression, but it does show the importance of regularly eating foods that are high in nutrition.
Food matters – maybe even more than you think! Let’s take a close look at a few specific ways that what you eat can influence your emotional health.
Foods to Help You to Relax
Foods that have high levels of magnesium have been found to have a relaxing effect. Foods such as pumpkin seeds, leafy greens, and almonds are high in magnesium. Snacking on some during the day can help to keep you calm. Eating some in the evening can help calm you down and help you get a better night’s sleep.
Foods to Boost Happiness
Who said you can’t find happiness in food? Foods such as onions, tomatoes, and romaine lettuce are high in chromium. Chromium is a nutrient that’s essential for insulin production which regulates blood sugar – something that can prevent mood dips. The omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish, ground flaxseeds, avocados, and other oils may also help to relieve depression. And, don’t forget about the amino acid tryptophan that’s found in shellfish, red meat, and poultry. This nutrient assists in the production of serotonin which can help to stave off anxiety and depression.
Foods to Increase Energy
If you’re not getting enough iron and vitamin B12, you could become anemic. Lacking these nutrients in your diet can lead to low energy levels. Boosting your diet with foods such as clams, oysters, spinach, eggs, and bell peppers can help increase your energy levels. This can leave you with more energy and the ability to get up and get things done!
Foods to Improve Concentration
Reach for seeds, nuts, and beans for a healthy dose of zinc. Zinc helps to turn omega-3s into prostaglandins (something necessary for concentration).
As you can see, all of these nutrients – and countless others – work together. Taking steps toward eating a well-rounded and varied diet that incorporates plenty of nutrients is important for not only your physical health, but your emotional well-being as well.
What are some of your favorite mood-boosting snacks?