A common solution to anxiety and depression is to take drugs like Xanax or Prozac. In fact, these medications are some of the most widely prescribed drugs. Besides they come with a risk of addiction they also come with a lot of negative side effects. Instead of popping up medications, a diet rich in “mood-boosting foods” can bring a happy and healthy change in your life.
A diet rich in mood-boosting foods stimulates dopamine production and boosts serotonin which are both crucial to mental health.
While dopamine controls emotional responses like pain and pleasure, serotonin is the “feel-good” neurotransmitter. Fortunately, certain foods can increase these feel-good reactions.
The foods we eat have an effect on every part of our bodies, most of all on our mental, emotional and spiritual states. If you are suffering from anxiety or depression, it’s important to correct your diet by eliminating foods that are triggering your anxiety and distress. Therefore, cut the stimulants and junk, and stick to a wholesome diet rich in mood-boosting foods.
Here are some of the key mood-boosting foods that can naturally balance your weight, help lift your mood, and bring great enthusiasm back into your life:
B3, B6, and B12 vitamins
Both of these B vitamins help you reduce anxiety and relax.B3-niacin is one of the building blocks of the tryptophan and B6 helps conserve it in the body. Tryptophan is amino acid and is one of the building blocks of serotonin. Getting enough vitamin B12 is crucial to staying mentally healthy and warding off depression. (1) One study found that patients who were most successful in combatting depression also were with the highest levels of vitamin B12. (2)
So, the best food sources of B3, B6, and B12 vitamins are:
- Dark leafy greens (spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, Swiss chard, collards)
- Mushrooms, especially Shiitake mushrooms
- Bell peppers
- Cruciferous vegetables (Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower)
- Wild-caught fish
Probiotic foods help build and balance a proper microbiome. This is crucial for using nutrients for organ and brain functioning.
The best sources of probiotics are:
- Raw apple cider vinegar
- Real fermented miso
- Umeboshi plums
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
To maintain proper functioning, your brain needs essential omega-3 fatty acids. This is one of the reasons why low-fat diets are not healthy. Omega-3 fatty acids naturally decrease feelings of depression and elevate your mood because they play a role in the serotonin synthesis. They also help eliminate cravings by making you feel satiated.
The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are:
- Hemp seeds
- Chia seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Wild-caught oily fish such as sardines, salmon, and anchovies
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the transport of dopamine. Sunlight absorbed through the skin is the best source of vitamin D. Also, these foods can help provide some as well:
- Cod liver oil
- Organic/pastured eggs
Tryptophan and Tyrosine
While these both are amino acids tryptophan is a building block of proteins. It helps balance hormones, aids in serotonin production and it is a natural mood regulator. (3) On the other hand, tyrosine is the building block of dopamine. It helps regulate the metabolic functions of your organs, helps neurotransmitters combat stress in your body, and can help improve memory and alertness. So, foods rich in tryptophan and tyrosine have a natural calming effect on the body and can boost your mood.
The best sources are:
- Seaweed (Spirulina)
- Red beets
- Beans and other legumes
- Organic/pastured eggs
- Organic/raw cheese
- Organic/grass-fed meat and wild game