One of the simplest and most effective ways to improve emotional health is through a healthy diet.
Many physical disorders such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and even cancer can be linked to unhealthy eating habits.
But did you know that also emotional and psychological conditions can be improved through a healthy diet?
By changing what we eat we can improve our emotional health, reduce stress levels and increase happiness in our lives.
Healthy eating can help you manage your moods, including stress, anxiety and depression.
Healthy eating is important for many reasons.
First, it’s necessary for our overall health. We can’t build strong bones or fight off food-borne illnesses if we don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats and low-fat dairy products. Not eating enough of these foods can lead to weight gain that puts an extra strain on our bodies and causes many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and more.
Second, eating healthy has a positive impact on our self-worth. Research shows that people who eat healthy are happier than those who don’t. This makes sense: Happy people tend to be healthier themselves so they have fewer health problems in the future.
Third, eating a balanced nutritious diet helps avoiding nutrient deficiencies and helps our neurotransmitters and hormones to function well. This can have a positive effect on many functions in our body, including our mood and stress response.
Here is a list of foods that can help with healthy eating:
Foods that boost serotonin levels
Serotonin, the neurotransmitter that affects mood, appetite and sleep, is made primarily in the brain. A healthy diet can be a powerful way to help boost serotonin levels. Here are some foods that have been known to help raise serotonin levels:
- Dark chocolate (80%+)
- Maca root
- Mung beans
Foods that boost dopamine levels
Dopamine is the brain’s ‘feel-good chemical. It’s released when we experience a pleasure. It is also known as the ‘reward’ neurotransmitter and is released when we eat pleasurable foods, such as chocolate and pizza. Foods that boost dopamine levels include:
Caffeine: Coffee and tea: contain caffeine which can increase dopamine levels and make you feel more alert. (Don’t overdo it though as it can have a negative effect. Green tea is your best choice)
Chocolate: Dark chocolate is a better choice to boost dopamine levels. (Avoid overconsumption and stick to 80%+ chocolate). Chocolates contain small amounts of a compound called phenylethylamine which boosts your dopamine levels.
Protein: Chicken, eggs, meat, fish, legumes, and beans—all things that are rich in protein are bound to be rich in tyrosine. This simply means that increasing your non-veg intake can also increase your dopamine levels.
Nuts and seeds: In order to produce dopamine, your body needs to break down an amino acid known as tyrosine, which is present in abundance in nuts such as almonds and walnuts, and seeds such as flax seeds. Snacking on a handful of them during the day can up your dopamine levels and help you a great deal.
Foods that boost: oxytocin levels
Oxytocin is a natural neurochemical that helps people bond and feel more positive emotions. It’s also the hormone that some people believe triggers feelings of love and long-lasting attachment.
Some foods can boost oxytocin levels, even if you don’t feel good afterward. That’s because as you eat more of them, your body starts producing more oxytocin — and we tend to eat more of what we like.
Good choices: fruits and vegetables; chicken; turkey; pork; fish; quinoa; tofu; almonds; olive oil, avocado and chicken liver.
Foods that reduce inflammation in the brain and body
When you’re feeling anxious, depressed or just plain low, it’s really tempting to reach for sugar. It may seem like a quick fix, but the truth is that sugar causes inflammation in the body, which can actually make anxiety and depression worse.
Fruits/Veggies – blueberries, raspberries, spinach and kale
Whole Grains – quinoa and brown rice
Beans/Legumes – black beans and lentils
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I hope you have enjoyed this article on how to eat a diet that will help lower your anxiety and depression.
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