“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dinned well” –Virginia Woolf
Can you take a moment to picture your favourite food nicely arranged and served in your favourite restaurant? Visualize the colour, aroma, and even the taste. Relive the pleasure and satisfaction you felt while eating. Do you remember how you felt when you finished eating?
The sight of food, especially the ones we fancy does several things to our brain. You might not have been conscious of how it makes you feel. But if you reflect, you would agree that food makes you feel good. On a lighter note, if you are still not convinced, try staying off food for some days, and let’s see how cranky you’d become!
Food affects your mood. Food can make you happy. But, certain habits like;
- Not feeding on a balanced diet
- Drinking too much coffee
- Staying indoors, and
- Lack of exercise can make you low-spirited without a particular reason!
How food affects your mood
The happiness you derive from food is not limited to the aesthetics or savour. It is from within. It is triggered by a chemical called Serotonin. Serotonin is also known as “the happy chemical”. It is a natural mood stabilizer in your body that contributes to wellness, happiness, and long life. Interestingly, 90 per cent of the serotonin in your body is in your digestive system. Serotonin is made from tryptophan (an essential amino acid) which you get through what you eat! So, since it is from tryptophan, and tryptophan comes from your food, you get to be in charge of your mood by your diet. Amazing right?
Apart from stabilizing your mood, it also helps with good sleep, increased libido, healthy bones, and bowel movement. Since you now know the link between food and mood, cut down on the coffee, and improve your diet. More so, you want to stock up on foods that are rich in tryptophan, so that you’d maintain a healthy level of your happy chemical.
Here is a list of some ‘happiness-trigger’ foods you should eat:
4. Nuts and seeds like walnut, cashew
5. Soy food e.g. soya milk, soy sauce
6. Milk and cheese
7. Poultry e.g. chicken, turkey, goose
8. Dark chocolate
9. Whole fruits like orange, pineapple
10. Beans and lentil e.g. kidney beans, black beans, white beans
Other mood stabilizers:
In addition to eating tryptophan-rich foods, exercise also improves your mood and mental well being. Apart from stimulating the release of serotonin, it also causes the production of endorphins. Endorphins are your body’s opioid which produces a morphine-like effect of making you feel good! Sunshine also helps to boost your serotonin level and Vitamin D.
Take charge of your mood today, and eat your way to happiness!
PS: if you are struggling with your mood, you must seek help from a licensed medical professional.
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PHARM. DARA MAKINDE