The Best Foods for Your Mood, According to Science
Despite what you may read in the fitness magazines, it’s okay to eat your feelings. Whether you’re feeling high and mighty after acing that Chem test, or binging on a pint of ice cream to remedy a breakup (Ben and Jerry are the most reliable boyfriends anyway, right?), here are some helpful tips for what foods pair best with your mood.
This piece originally appeared on Spoon University.
The seemingly never-ending hike over to the dining hall is one that is filled with much agony, and you wonder if anything, even food, can fix your mood. Eating or drinking calcium is the best way to reduce irritability, so whether it’s having a glass of milk or adding a side of orange slices, things will start to look up after having a little calcium.
Here’s why calcium is the move. As you may or may not know (depending on how well you listened in bio), calcium is a chemical element that is critical to both our mental and physical health. Mild or severe deficiency of this chemical can lead to depression, nerve sensitivity, insomnia, and lots of other bad things.
By eating or drinking calcium, you are allowing this critical chemical to release neurotransmitters that will be transported directly to your brain. This chemical transmission can bring about a positive response in your brain that will result in your happier mood.
The only thing that can make you feel better after a long weekend of sleepless nights and countless regrets is a breakfast complete with french toast, chocolate pancakes and a side of extra-greasy dining hall tater tots. Before adding this meal to your growing list of regrets, think of it more as a necessity.
A study done at the University of Leuven in Belgium shows that fatty foods can reduce the intensity of your sad emotions by half. How, you ask? Basically this study proves that signals are sent directly from the gut to the brain, so a happy stomach literally means a happy mind. Your brain produces sensory-specific responses, and junk food often stimulates a positive response. The stimulation that comes from an unhealthy snack is enough to trick your brain into putting you in a better mood.
Foods high in Vitamin D are proven to sustain energy, so the best way to avoid missing the pregame after failing to wake up from your post-dinner-nap is to turn to a meal consisting of meat, fish, or eggs.
In the most simplest of terms, the scientific reasoning behind this energy boost comes from the fact that Vitamin D allows for your cells’ mitochondria to be fully efficient. As the powerhouse of the cell, the mitochondria plays a large role in bodily functions. With increased mitochondrial efficiency comes a major surge in the energy that an individual produces.
The best way to regain motivation and get rid of the stress of exam week is to have a meal with an equal balance of carbs and protein. The carbs will give you a boost of energy while the protein will help stabilize your blood sugar by slowing down carb absorption.
Your blood sugar is the concentration of glucose in the blood that circulates your body, and a well-balanced blood sugar causes your hormones to regulate and your body to burn stored fat. As your body becomes equalized, your stress levels are bound to significantly decrease. Instead of turning to that fourth cup of coffee, try a bagel with peanut butter or a yogurt-based smoothie.
They say that the happiest people are the healthiest people, and let’s be honest, when are theyever wrong? When you’re feeling your best, you should be eating your best. A study conducted at McMaster University in Ontario states that Probiotic-rich foods have the ability to alter your mood and give you a greater sense of happiness. So what are these probiotics I speak of?
Probiotic-rich food possesses live bacteria that replace or add to the beneficial bacteria normally present in the gastrointestinal tract. Basically, these are the “good” bacteria that are proven to have positive effects on your mood. So do your body a favor, and treat yourself to a Kombucha, yogurt, or some dark chocolate that will be sure to keep you feeling your happiest.
According to a study in Psychological Science, eating comfort foods is the best way to cure your loneliness (especially after listening to the new Adele album). It is scientifically proven that people often turn to non-human things to make them feel a sense of comfort and belonging. For many people, this non-human thing is comfort food.
Comfort food is loosely defined as anything that mama used to make — macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, chicken soup, etc. or for us college kids, it could be one of these epic food combos.
By turning to these foods to ease their solitude, people are creating a social surrogate that mimics a relationship. This pseudo-relationship can make all the difference when you’re feeling completely alone. So, if you’ve succumbed to the effects of Adele, or if you really don’t feel like you have anyone on your side, try having some classic comfort foods to cure the loneliness.
When you’re not feeling your best, the last thing you wanna do is eat food that makes you feel worse. Our immune systems are extremely complicated, and they function to protect us from germs, diseases, and basically everything else we don’t want in our bodies.
This system goes into action at the moment food first enters our mouths, and it is aided by the antimicrobials that are in our saliva. These antimicrobials act as the first form of defense that protect against unwanted substances, the next line of defense is the stomach.
There are many forms of bacteria in our bodies, and our gastrointestinal lining helps to ensure that harmful bacteria doesn’t enter the stomach. Nutrient-dense food that is rich in fiber helps promote a healthy bacterial balance, and this balance is imperative to maintaining your health.
So, when you start to get the first symptoms of the latest cold, make sure to eat as healthy as possible. A diet full of fiber and nutrients will keep your immune system at its strongest, so try to eat plenty of bread, whole wheat pasta, and edamame.