Do you know the feeling of tiredness after lunch? – After having a pizza, a large burger, or simply after eating a lot? – If so, then you also know that food does not just impact your body but also your mind. Some can make us tired or even edgy but some can even be mood boosters. Mood booster foods are the ones we also call brain food here. We’ll be taking a look at those that cannot just help stabilize our moods but even improve it, ease anxiety, reduce stress and help fight depression. Of course, this will just be a small ingredient in improving our mood but just like Winston Churchill said: “Man should give his body something nice, so the soul wants to live inside it”.
The basic rule to live by
Before we start with our top list of brain food, there’s one important thing to know: We should try to minimize our consumption of junk and industrially processed foods as much as possible. They often contain artificial ingredients (e.g. colourants, flavour, texturants), high sugar, refined carbohydrates, and trans fats which not just can cause diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer but can also cause mood swings through spikes in our blood sugar. If we follow this rule, we are already doing quite well.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s start with our list of brain food for a better mood!
Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for keeping our brains healthy. They alter brain chemicals linked with mood and can stabilize our mood and even be a mood-booster. Besides, Omega-3 fatty acids are important for our energy production and heart. If you like fish, this brain food is for you!
Eggs are high in vitamin B. Vitamin B is important when it comes to converting food into energy. Therefore, eggs are a source of sustainable energy which can last throughout the whole day. Eggs are also a very good source for Selenium which can improve our mood and decrease anxiety as described in the study already conducted in 1991.
We just love avocados… and guacamole! 😉 Good thing is that avocados don’t just taste great, they are also high in magnesium which can improve our mood – also when suffering from depression. This was concluded in a study conducted in 2017 and especially applies to people having symptoms of magnesium deficiency.
You might already know this, but choosing whole grain over refined grain is always the right choice. Whole grain is not just better for your body, but also for your brain health. Why? – Because it keeps your blood sugar stable and saves you from energy fluctuations, and so keeps your mood stable. Definitely keep this in mind for your next meal and pay attention to how you will feel much less tired!
There are numerous studies showing the effects of coffee on our mood and emotions. According to a meta-analysis conducted in 2016, caffeine can help limit depression. There was also a study in 2015 which concluded that coffee can even make you happy. It gives a boost to your serotonin level, which helps balance your mood and overall outlook. Coffe is more more like a brain drink than a brain food. There’s just one little thing we need to consider: We are talking black coffee with eventually just a little sugar and not our caramel macchiato with extra sugar and white chocolate flakes on top. 😉
Cocoa contains very high amounts of so-called polyphenols which positively affect anxiety and enhance calmness (as documented by a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2013). But does that mean, that any chocolate or chocolate drink is good for your mood? Unfortunately no, you have to either go for a dark chocolate drink or go for a chocolate with at least 70% of cocoa.
Pro-Tip: Brain food combo
Combine all brain foods! Take a slice of a whole wheat bread and toast it. Now, put smashed avocado, a slice of smoked salmon, a slice of a hard-boiled egg (slightly salted and peppered) and add a little bit of parsley. Enjoy with your choice of coffee or dark chocolate! Just the perfect brain food combo to start your day!
Do you want to find out how the food you eat impacts your mood?
Then keep track of your mood combined with your eating habits! You can simply use a pen & paper or keep a digital log on your phone. For a convenient method, check out our app Moodistory which aims to make it as easy as possible. Whatever method you choose, it will help you establish awareness of which foods are good for you. Happy tracking!