Our bodies work much like a car does, and cars need constant care to ensure they run smoothly. The food we eat fuels our bodies and, like a car, the type of fuel we give ourselves influences how well we run. One such fuel is serotonin, also known as the “happy hormone,” which regulates sleep, appetite, and mood. Serotonin is made from the essential amino acid tryptophan, found in many foods you may already eat. 95% of serotonin is produced in the
gastrointestinal tract, so it’s no wonder our mood and our food are intermingled.
The beneficial bacteria in the stomach limit inflammation and improve how well we absorb
nutrients from food. They also activate neural pathways between the gut and the brain that are responsible for transporting chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. Essential nutrients like B6, folate, magnesium, and unsaturated fats also contribute to our mental wellbeing.
If you are struggling with low mood, consider combining a balanced diet with exercise,
stress-relief, and better sleep quality to amplify your mental health and happiness
progression. When planning your next meal or grocery run, try including some of the foods
below that boost your mood! *
Fermented foods. Choose fermented foods like yogurt, tempeh, miso, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. The fermentation process creates probiotics, which in turn, supports healthy bacteria in your gut.
Avocados. Eat more avocados, “the hormone balancer.” Avocados contain healthy fats (mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated) and stress reducing vitamins, ensuring your brain is making the right chemicals needed for sleeping well and feeling happy.
Dark chocolate. Nibble on some dark chocolate, which contains tryptophan, magnesium, and antioxidants that help boost your mood.
Bananas. Eat a banana to get 25% of your daily intake of vitamin B6 which is needed to create serotonin.
Green salads. Have a salad full of dark leafy greens, rich in magnesium and folate (vitamin B9), which provide the chemical
housekeeping necessary to battle the blues.
Fish and seafood. Eat foods rich in omega-3 (poly-unsaturated fats), like salmon and shrimp, to improve your mental wellbeing and reduce depression.
Water. Gulp down lots of water! Water helps carry the nutrients from your food to your cells and being well-hydrated has proven to improve sleep quality and cognition in addition to mood.
* Make sure to listen to your body. If a type of food does not agree with you, consult with your doctor on whether you should consume it or not.