It is well known that exercise, sunshine and friendship improve mood, but the impact diet can have is frequently underestimated. Rather than taking anti-depressants, it would be both cheaper and healthier to change what you eat and drink.
This is especially true for those who inhabit the rich, western nations. For example, the citizens of Western Europe and North America consume a great deal of dairy produce. But when calcium intake exceeds magnesium, a dip in mood often results. Westerners also consume excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol, which over-stimulate the adrenal glands and trigger hormonal imbalances. As if that wasn’t enough, the Western diet includes a great deal of processed food as well. These are packed with additives and preservatives, destroying vital nutrients and influencing mood.
Sugar is perhaps the biggest problem food. It is a sad irony that many reach for a sugary snack to lift their mood. But the body responds by releasing insulin and glucagon to break the sugar down, leading to the familiar ‘crash’: that low, moody, irritable feeling following the initial high.
In spite of numerous public health drives, many continue to pay little or no attention to what they eat. Too many people live on junk food and fizzy drinks interspersed with alcohol binges. Such a lifestyle places tremendous strain on the liver. And when it is overloaded, the liver grows sluggish and toxins find their way into the bloodstream. The brain itself is then affected, leading to mood swings, impaired concentration and even depression.
So what positive steps can be taken? The first is simple: drink more water. Many people spend their life in a near dehydrated state. But water is essential for stabilizing blood sugar and maintaining a hormonal balance. Without sufficient water intake, the liver cannot break down and excrete toxins. And as toxins build up, mood goes down.
Next, increase the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables you consume. If possible, make them organic as pesticides can build up in the body and stress the liver. The high fiber content will help control blood sugar levels, and the high vitamin and mineral content will improve physical well-being. The better your physical health, the better your mental health. Never forget this.
Oily fish is another wonderful mood-booster. Brain cells need the specialized fats found in fish like sardines, mackerel and tuna if they are to function at their optimum level. Such fats also slow down the absorption of sugar, stabilizing blood sugar levels and reducing mood swings. If you dislike oily fish, the same fats can be found in walnuts and pumpkin seeds.
However, as you clear away the fizzy drinks and junk food and replace them with bottled water and organic vegetables, do not neglect protein. Many converts to healthy eating forget that the body needs more than fruit and vegetables. Protein is not only essential for a healthy immune system; it also provides the amino acids necessary for the manufacture and smooth working of the brain cells. So include turkey, chicken, fish, beans, nuts and seeds in your new diet.
In their search for happiness, people will exhaust their credit cards, swallow tablets or even turn to alcohol. Yet a simple change of eating habits may be all that is needed. So cut down on sugar, dairy and processed food, drink more water, and pack your fridge with oily fish, organic vegetables, mineral water and good quality protein. Within a few weeks you will be astonished at how much your mood improves.