When your mood is low, you may have a tendency to turn to food as a way to lift up your spirits. But, these are usually high-calorie, sugar-abundant treats that are not a healthy choice, right?
This is why it’s good to know that there are healthy foods that can help us fight against tiredness and depression.
There have been specific foods found to be able to better the health of the brain and be of aid in addressing certain mood problems. However, it’s not always easy to guarantee that some food will instantly better your mood.
Namely, our mood is affected by numerous other factors, including sleep quality, stress exposure, environment, genetics, etc.
9 Foods That Are Your Best Allies in the Fight Against Depression & Tiredness
- Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is abundant in compounds that are good for your mood. The sugar inside can better your mood by fueling the brain.
It also releases other feel-good compounds like caffeine and theobromine. Although some experts aren’t sure if chocolate has enough of these compounds to lead to a positive psychological effect, it’s been found that the health-promoting flavonoids it has are good for blood-brain flow, lower inflammation, and better brain health.
All of these factors contribute to our mood regulation processes. But, as milk chocolate tends to be high in sugar and fat, dark chocolate may be a healthier choice because it’s low in sugar and rich in flavonoids.
- Fermented foods
Foods that are fermented like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, etc. nourish our gut and mood. The fermentation process is vital for the creation of probiotics. They’re essential for healthy bacteria in the gut and may contribute to serotonin increase. Serotonin is a vital neurotransmitter that plays a role in our appetite, mood, sexual drive, and response to stress.
Interestingly, up to 90 percent of it is produced by the microbiome of the gut. Not all fermented foods provide this effect, for example, beer, certain bread types, and wine.
Rich in vitamin B6, bananas encourage the synthesis of serotonin and dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitters.
The combo of sugar and fiber in bananas helps to release sugar slowly into the blood and stabilizes the sugar levels and ensures a better mood.
This is important since low levels of sugar can cause mood swings and irritability. The bananas with a greener peel are great sources of prebiotics, a fiber type that is essential for healthy gut bacteria.
This is vital if we take into account that a healthy gut microbiome has been linked with a lower mood disorder rate.
Oats will keep you in good spirits thanks to being abundant in fiber. Fiber slows down carb digestion and ensures a slow release of sugar in the blood and stabilizes your energy levels.
One study found that people who consume fiber for breakfast reported better mood and energy levels.
This was found to be a result of the stable sugar levels that is vital for the prevention of irritability and mood swings.
Oats are also rich in iron. This is important because anemia caused by iron deficiency has been linked with symptoms like mood disorders and tiredness.
Coffee contains caffeine that averts adenosine from attaching to the receptors in the brain and causing fatigue and increases attention and alertness.
By drinking coffee, you elevate the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine, neurotransmitters that better the mood.
What’s more, in a study with 72 people, it was concluded that both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee contributed to significant mood improvements in comparison to the placebo group.
The researchers believe that this happened thanks to the phenolic compounds present in coffee.
- Beans and lentils
Rich in protein and fiber, these two foods supply you with amazing nutrients, including B vitamins.
These nutrients play a role in mood improvement by elevating your levels of dopamine, serotonin, GABA, and norepinephrine- neurotransmitters that are vital for mood regulation.
Also, this vitamin is pivotal for nerve signaling that enables healthy nerve cell communication. When we’re low in these vitamins, particularly in vitamin B12 and folate, there’s a higher risk of depression and mood disorders.
Also, they’re rich in zinc, selenium, magnesium, and non-heme iron which may also help in mood improvement.
- Seeds and nuts
Nuts and seeds supply us with healthy fats, fiber, and protein. They also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that plays a role in the production of mood-boosting serotonin.
Many nuts and seeds are part of the Mediterranean diets that are promoted as good for the brain.
Interestingly, a study done for a decade with 15,980 individuals connected a moderate consumption of nuts with a 23 percent reduced chance of depression.
Berry consumption may reduce depression. This may be due to the antioxidants present in berries that have been linked with lower inflammation.
And, inflammation has been linked with depression and various mood disorders. Berries contain antioxidants and phenolic compounds that play a vital role in the fight against oxidative stress.
The anthocyanins they contain have been connected to a 39% lower chance of depression symptoms.
- Fatty fish
Fatty fish such as albacore tuna and salmon contain omega 3s that have been associated with a lower risk of depression.
These fatty acids need to be acquired via our diet since the body doesn’t produce on its own.
They’re vital for the fluidity of the brain’s cell membrane and also contribute to brain development and cell signaling. In some studies, the consumption of these fats via fish oil helped reduce depression scores.