Boosting Your Mood with Food

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Boosting Your Mood with FoodFoods that heal include those that positively impact your mood. And new research shows that certain foods that carry specific flavors do indeed enhance your mood. Even to the level that some mood-stabilizing drugs do.

RECOMMENDED: Get moving toward a better mood.

The health breakthrough comes from a major scientific conference that ended in mid-August. Basically, researchers found that some flavors in our food have the ability enhance our moods. They contain natural ingredients that were found to mimic “valproic acid,” which is a prescription drug that stabilizes moods. Could this effect be at the root of the “comfort foods” that put us in a good mood?

The study was of over 1,700 substances that contribute to how the most common foods taste to us. Previously, researchers have found that natural chemicals in chocolate, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and foods like fish that are high in omega-3s impact mood positively. Now the studies show that the flavors themselves are structurally similar to valproic acid.

This drug is a common treatment for mood swings that afflict patients with mental disorders such as manic depression. For many years, we have known that various foods have properties that can alter our moods. Now researchers are seeking to identify the chemical compounds in these foods that moderate mood swings, help maintain cognitive health, improve mental alertness, and delay the onset of memory loss.

They screened the chemical structures of over 1,700 food flavor ingredients to see if there were similarities to the structures of antidepressants, and any agents that have reported antidepressant activity. The study’s main result so far is linked to valproic acid. The researchers have not yet approached dietary recommendations or new nutritional supplements with beneficial mood effects, but this is their next step.

The takeaway message here is that there is a bundle of foods out there that can increase your mood-related quality of life. There are many ways that foods can do this. They can help increase levels of serotonin, they can alleviate stress, they can energize the body, they can help ensure a digestive system that is strong and not sluggish, and simply the knowledge that you are eating healthy foods can raise your mood and relax the body.

Here are some foods that may help in these ways: whole-grain oats; milk; avocado; a handful of nuts; lentils; chocolate; and a spectrum of fruits and vegetables. Also, simply avoiding the bad foods can also be a tactic. Candy, cakes, cookies, processed foods, and anything full of simple sugars will spike your blood sugar, then cause it to fall, leaving you very sluggish.