Mood Foods: Healthy Foods to Brighten Your Day

Can foods change your mood? According to several studies, it seems that a person's choice of food is usually dictated by his state of mind. Conversely, food and nutrition are key factors in your brain's behavior. Judith Wurtman, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), researched how foods alter one's mood by changing the levels of specific brain chemicals – dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin - called neurotransmitters.

Wurtman reported that a stable brain serotonin level is associated with positive moods, while an unstable level of serotonin - caused by hormones, alcohol, stress, or drugs - can create wide mood swings. Whatever you eat, the food-mood feeling usually lasts no more than two to three hours after eating.

Factors that Affect Mood

- Types of foods and fats
- Poor diet
- Excessive snacking
- Size of meal – small meals better than large meals – too many calories stress the body and decrease alertness and concentration after a meal
- Heart rate
- Body Clock – Sleep, Alertness, Morning or Evening Person
- Tension & stress
- Genetics
- Lack of exercise
- Allergies
- Chemical imbalance
- Smoking

Happy Foods – Alertness & Concentration – Protein driven – Increase Dopamine & Norepinephrine

- Meat
- Dairy Products
- Fish
- Beans

Happy Foods – Calmness & Relaxation – Carbohydrate driven – Increase Serotonin

- Grains
- Fruits
- Sugars (see caution below)

Depressing Foods

- Fast
- Refined
- Fatty
- Foods with additives, preservatives, and food colorings
- Foods that lack Folic Acid
- Foods that lack Selenium

What can I do? – Optimum Diet & Superfoods

- Eat at least 15 percent of you daily protein from fish and vegetable proteins
- Eat raw foods & veggies
- Eat whole grains & fiber
- Avoid wheat gluten
- Eat more foods with calcium, magnesium, selenium and B-vitamins
- Avoid all preserved, refined and processed foods
- Avoid sugary and fatty foods
- Avoid smoking
- Reduce alcohol consumption – drink only in moderation
- Reduce caloric intake
- Exercise – the more the better (within reason)

Daily vitamins, minerals, herbs and supplements – make sure you consult your medical expert before taking any of the following:

- L-Tyrosine
- Selenium
- Zinc
- Taurine
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B complex, B12 and B6
- Pantothenic acid
- Folic acid
- Choline
- Calcium & Magnesium combo
- Chromium
- Siberian ginseng
- Kava Kava

While foods high in sugar – and most fat-laden comfort foods - will initially give you a sense of contentment and satisfaction, they will also cause a sudden drop in mood and energy – about an hour after eating – and can lead to anxiety, irritation, and lethargy. Therefore, it is best to stick with the foods you know will put you in a good mood AND help your health.