Key To Happiness? It’s All In Your Food!

| Updated: June 1, 2022 11:47 am

Food is known to trigger metabolism, which in turn, is the breaking down of nutrients into its component chemicals and nutrients. While nutrients are essential to regular physiological working, it is the chemicals that maintain the electrolyte balance, which is key to hormonal functioning. Research has established the role of hormones as the key to “feelings.” Among the “happy hormones” are serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins. These are known to promote positive feelings like pleasure, happiness, and even love. Food as a science is an emerging study with potential secrets yet to be unlocked. However, here’s a quick list of foods known to pack in the positive vibes:

Fatty fish

Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of essential fats that you must obtain through your diet because your body can’t produce them on its own. Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, tilapia and mackerel are rich in two types of omega-3s — docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) — that are linked to lower levels of depression. Most experts agree that adults require at least 250–500 mg of combined EPA and DHA per day.

Dark chocolate

Chocolate is rich in many mood-boosting compounds. Furthermore, it may release a cascade of feel-good compounds, such as caffeine, theobromine, and N-acylethanolamine — a substance chemically similar to cannabinoids that has been linked to improved mood. Dark chocolate has a high hedonic rating, meaning that its pleasurable taste, texture, and smell may also promote good mood.

Fermented food

Fermented foods, which include kimchi, yogurt and idli-dosa may improve gut health and mood. During the fermentation process, probiotics are created. These live micro-organisms support the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut and may increase serotonin levels. It’s important to note that not all fermented foods are significant sources of probiotics, such as in the case of beer, some breads, and wine, due to cooking and filtering. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects many facets of human behaviour, such as mood, stress response, appetite, and sexual drive. Up to 90% of your body’s serotonin is produced by your gut microbiome, or the collection of healthy bacteria in your gut.

Bananas

Bananas are high in vitamin B6, which helps synthesize feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Furthermore, one large banana (136 grams) provides 16 grams of sugar and 3.5 grams of fiber. When paired with fiber, sugar is released slowly into your bloodstream, allowing for stable blood sugar levels and better mood control.

Oats

Oats are a whole grain that can keep you in good spirits all morning. You can enjoy them in many forms, such as overnight oats, oatmeal, muesli, and granola. They’re an excellent source of fiber, providing 8 grams in a single cup (81 grams). They’re also high in iron, which may improve mood symptoms in those with iron deficiency, anaemia.

Berries

Eating more fruits and vegetables is linked to lower rates of depression. Although the mechanism isn’t clear, a diet rich in antioxidants may help manage inflammation associated with depression and other mood disorders. Berries pack in a wide range of antioxidants and phenolic compounds, which play a key role in combatting oxidative stress — an imbalance of harmful compounds in your body. They’re particularly high in anthocyanins, a pigment that gives certain berries their purple-blue color. One study associated a diet rich in anthocyanins with a 39% lower risk of depression symptoms.

Nuts & Seeds

These provide tryptophan, an amino acid responsible for producing mood-boosting serotonin. Almonds, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts, as well as pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds, are excellent sources. Brazil nuts, almonds and pine nuts, are good sources of zinc and selenium. Deficiency in these minerals, which are important for brain function, is associated with higher rates of depression.

These provide tryptophan, an amino acid responsible for producing mood-boosting serotonin. Almonds, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts, as well as pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds, are excellent sources. Brazil nuts, almonds and pine nuts, are good sources of zinc and selenium. Deficiency in these minerals, which are important for brain function, is associated with higher rates of depression.

Coffee

The caffeine in coffee prevents a naturally occurring compound called adenosine from attaching to brain receptors that promote tiredness, therefore increasing alertness and attention. Moreover, it increases the release of mood-boosting neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine. A study in 72 people found that both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee significantly improved mood compared with a regular beverage, suggesting that coffee contains other compounds that influence mood.

Beans & Lentils

An excellent source of B vitamins, which help improve mood by increasing levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), all of which are important for regulating mood. Furthermore, B vitamins play a key role in nerve signalling, which allows proper communication between nerve cells. Low levels of these vitamins, especially B12 and folate, have been linked to mood disorders, such as depression.

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