Saturday, November 18, 2017

Get Happier with These Foods

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Power up your mood with foods that energize and inspire a happier well-being …

Produce

Just looking at this bright arrangement brings a smile!
Just looking at this bright arrangement brings a smile!

Many favorite fruits and vegetables are seasonally fresh right now and for months to come. Load up your plate. Researchers linked a higher intake of produce to increased energy and calmness, and improved well-being. These findings were noted on the same day study participants increased produce consumption, as well as throughout the following day. Seven daily servings of produce seemed to deliver this boost in mental well-being. We all know it certainly benefits our physical selves.

Probiotics

Spoon up the probiotics. Yogurt is often a great source.
Spoon up the probiotics. Yogurt is often a great source.

Known for their gastrointestinal health benefits, research on probiotics also has linked them to affecting mood. Cutting-edge studies continue to reveal connections between the type and amount of bacteria in the digestive tract with brain functioning. This gives new meaning to the old saying, “You are what you eat.”

A healthy diet, rich in probiotics naturally found in foods or through supplements, is shown to have a positive impact on mood. This includes reduced reactivity to sad mood, including a reduction in aggressive and obsessive thoughts.

Healthy Fats

Rethink salmon servings. Pile thin slices on whole grain bread for a sandwich.
Rethink salmon servings. Pile thin slices on whole grain bread for a sandwich.

A successful low-fat diet includes healthy fats that help spur weight loss and improve mood. Sixty percent of the brain consists of fat. Omega-3s help neuron function for better connections between brain cells. Animal and plant sources high in omega-3s can elevate mood and increase brainpower.

Animal sources trump plant sources. Go for salmon, sardines, and mackerel first. If seafood isn’t your favorite, opt for small portions of grass-fed meats or pasture-produced eggs. If you choose dietary supplements, ask your physician for recommendations. Mood improvement from a supplement may take up to three months.

Green Tea

Green tea refresh!
Green tea refresh!

A study of more than 40,000 people who drank five or more cups of green tea daily found participants to be less stressed than those who drank less than one cup. Psychological stress levels were 20 percent lower in the five-cup-or-more population. The effect did not discriminate. It remained apparent after consideration of factors like alcohol consumption, body mass index, and cigarette smoking.

Think beyond the mug. It may not be feasible to drink so many cups daily. Green tea can be enjoyed in smoothies, frappuccinos, soups, sauces, and dressings. Many brand-name iced teas offer green-tea varieties. Have a frosty glass or two on the patio. Beware of ready-made brews, which are often high in sugars. Green tea is generally lower in caffeine than most other caffeinated beverages; however, caffeine content should be considered, especially if aiming for those five cups.

Dark Chocolate and Coffee

Talk about a blissful mood! Studies found those who enjoy a regular cup of coffee gain mental health benefits. The morning fix was linked to energy, kindness, and pleasure. (Validity to those silly warnings, “Don’t bother me until I’ve had my coffee.”) Many enjoy visiting with friends over a cup, an excuse to meet up without the time commitment or preparation of a meal. The social aspect associated with coffee explains its connection to affection, satisfaction, and happiness. Despite its caffeine content, relaxing with a mug full has been proven to induce a sense of calm.

According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, women who drank two to three cups daily were 15 percent less likely to develop depression over a 10-year period, compared to those who drank one cup or less daily. Sounds like the perfect reason to set up regular coffee dates!

Sip your way to a smile.
Sip your way to a smile.

Great paired with that latte, dark chocolate contains natural substances that trigger a sense of euphoria similar to feeling in love. This little luxury also contains magnesium, shown to help alleviate the fatigue, depression, and irritability often associated with PMS.

An ounce and a half of dark chocolate daily for two weeks reduced stress-hormone levels in those who rated themselves as highly stressed, according to one study. (How does one get to participate in these studies?)  Life seems sweeter already! Go for the individually wrapped pieces, otherwise, you may overindulge.

Check with the Reception Desk to see when nutrition seminars are offered at the Center. Healthy, happy fuel can optimize your workouts!

Happiness truly can be a delicious feeling.

Sources

“6 Foods That Can Make You Happier” by Cynthia Sass at huffingtonpost.com

Health.com

Image Credits

Happy woman (introductory photo): flickr.com/photos/mayprodrigo/7559420940/

Yogurt with berries: flickr.com/photos/peddhapati/11177366384/

Salmon sandwich: flickr.com/photos/infomastern/16331561463/

Green smoothie: https://www.flickr.com/photos/61800045@N02/12396321765/

Coffee & dark chocolate: flickr.com/photos/teedle/6937368201/

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