Food not only satisfies hunger and gives a sense of fulfillment, it can also help you be emotionally healthy. However, diets consisting of highly processed junk food can make you feel anxious, depressed or fatigued. To stay healthy and happy, you should feed your body with whole foods that provide essential nutrients. Choosing foods that cater to your emotional needs can get rid of anxiety, reduce stress and make you feel good.
Seaweed is a sea vegetable most common in Asian cuisines. It contains high levels of amino acids, the essential building blocks of protein. Protein helps sustain energy by keeping blood sugar balanced and your mind focused. Seaweed is also high in vitamin B-12, which not only helps nerve function, but also provides your body with a nice boost in energy. You can sprinkle seaweed on a salad or make your own sushi!
If you are looking for a relaxing drink, chamomile tea is great to have on hand when feeling uneasy. According to a study published in the “Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology” in 2009, chamomile is shown to calm your nerves and reduce anxiety. In addition, chamomile helps reduce upset stomach or nausea. Keep a few tea bags in your purse or office desk in case you find yourself needing to relax and de-stress on a busy day.
Almonds are one of the most versatile nuts, with a wide range of health benefits. They have high levels of both manganese and magnesium. These two nutrients not only give you a natural boost in energy, but they also keep you full during the day. Manganese provides essential nutrients to help fight fatigue and produce energy, while magnesium regulates blood sugar levels, which keeps your emotional energy stable. Almonds can be eaten raw or toasted and make a great on-the-go snack. Just a handful of almonds is enough to get an energy boost when you need it most.
Packed with nutrients, bananas are considered a complex carbohydrate, which means the body digests them slowly, over time. This helps fuel your body with sustained, natural energy without causing a crash. This fruit also contains vitamin B-6, which helps the body synthesize the stress-reducing hormone serotonin. A banana makes a sweet and portable treat to pack in your lunch or enjoy as an afternoon snack.
Excessive consumption of fast foods and processed foods can put you at risk for depression, according to a study published in 2012 in the journal “Public Health Nutrition.” These foods are high in unhealthy fats and sugars, adding calories but no nutrients to your diet. In contrast, whole foods can actually help lift your mood by supplying your brain with essential nutrients or “brain food.” Feeling happy starts with a varied diet of nutrient-rich, whole foods.
Function of Serotonin
Serotonin is the main neurotransmitter behind emotional balance and stability, both of which contribute to happiness. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers formed from nutrients and key to proper brain function. If serotonin levels are low, you may experience mood shifts, including depression. Many people control depression with prescription medications but dislike the unwanted side effects. Food and supplements may help alleviate mild depression more naturally, but you should consult a doctor or licensed counselor about serious mood shifts.
Precursors of Serotonin
Serotonin derives from the amino acid tryptophan, known for its relaxing properties. Tryptophan is why you feel sleepy after eating a big Thanksgiving dinner or drinking a glass of warm milk. This amino acid occurs in animal foods including turkey, fish, dairy products and some nuts and seeds. Your brain needs tryptophan so you can have a good night’s sleep, which is a factor in being emotionally balanced and happy. Another precursor of serotonin is 5-hydroxytryptophane, or 5-HTP, a supplement that helps elevate mood and promotes relaxation. However, people taking prescription antidepressants should never supplement with 5-HTP unless under a doctor’s supervision.
Vitamins That Boost Mood
The family of B vitamins is famous for supporting brain function. Deficiencies in these vitamins can result in a host of psychiatric conditions, including anxiety, memory loss and depression. To boost feelings of happiness, eat foods rich in the B vitamins, such as whole grains, green leafy vegetables, meat and poultry, nuts and beans. Vitamin C is an important nutrient for those facing mental stress, which can sap feelings of contentment and happiness. To keep your spirits lifted, consume plenty of vitamin C-rich foods, such as bell peppers, citrus fruit, broccoli, strawberries, kale and kiwi.
Try these feel good foods with one of our vegetarian diet plans to stay slim and sexy this summer!