There is a substantial and growing body of science that reveals the relationship between your food moods and your chronic blues…A lot of it. We’ve heard it for years.
Here’s the mechanism behind your food moods and your chronic blues.
Generally, excessive amounts of alcohol, simple sugars (think candy and pastries), as well as caffeine (click on the link to learn more) and certain vitamin deficiencies can negatively impact your mood.
That’s no surprise.
There are foods that help and foods and beverages that hinder your intentions to feel good and enjoy your relationships, your work, and your health.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be a struggle, and the ideal routine seems to change all the time, but your physical well-being plays a huge role in your daily lives.
In many ways, your mental health affects your ability to be physically healthy, and vice versa. Researchers in both of those areas have a lot to say about what it takes to be well.
This is a big topic…I want to share some recommendations and foods to help improve your mental acuity, concentration, memory, focus and your overall health. Small steps you can take to be happy, healthy and enjoy life. Take this time to learn about your food moods and your chronic blues.
Found in coffee, chocolate, energy drinks, and some medications, caffeine gives you that unmistakable wake-up buzz, though the effects are short-term.
Having even more caffeine is often less helpful:
- Overdo it on caffeine and it can make you jittery, uncomfortable, and less able to concentrate.
- The come-down from excessive caffeine can create irritability and depression. If you’re already depressed, caffeine can add anxiety to your day.
Too much caffeine can bring on Dysphoria, a state of generalized unhappiness, restlessness, dissatisfaction or frustration.
Dysphoria is a psychological state often caused by or accompanied by a mental health condition.
- Stress, grief, relationship difficulties, and other environmental problems can also cause dysphoria.
Most often, dysphoria is a mood, which means it can be short-lived or fleeting. But people can also experience long-term dysphoric states.
- Long-term dysphoria is often strongly associated with mental health conditions that affect mood such as major depression, mania, and cyclothymia, a mild form of Bipolar Disorder.
As mentioned earlier, nutritional deficits and health conditions can also cause dysphoria, long periods of unhappiness, restlessness, dissatisfaction, or frustration.
- For example, the stress of a chronic illness such as heart disease or diabetes can cause feelings of dysphoria.
If your system is sensitive to thoughts and events, limit coffee to two cups per day or less.
It’s all about the multiple negative effects of sugar these days, and for good reason. But if there was ever a time to really learn about your food moods and your chronic blues, this is it. We’re drowning in a sea of white sugar.
The human brain has been called the most complex object in the known universe. In many ways, it’s “the final frontier” of science.
Our brains are made of a hundred billion neurons, with close to a quadrillion connections between them, and we don’t even fully understand a single cell.
But we have to give it a shot.
That’s the reason why drinking a glass of soda or something sweet gives you a short-term boost of memory, clear thinking, and mental ability. It seems to cure those mid-afternoon and quitting time slumps.
Consume too much though, and not only can it impair your memory, but the rest of you as well.
- If used correctly, sugar can enhance your cognitive function without adding too many calories, pounds or worse. Go easy on it.
It’s hard to accept, but I still occasionally hear patients tell me they don’t eat breakfast.
- Understand that your metabolism does not get kicked into gear each morning by coffee, it needs some carbohydrates.
But again, choose your carbs wisely. Complex rather than “simple” carbs.
- Get your motor running every day by eating high-fiber whole grains, dairy, and fruits. Just don’t overeat.
Researchers have also found that high-calorie breakfasts hinder concentration, creating a sluggishness which can make your whole day seem like it’s going uphill. Best to skip the fast food breakfast sandwiches.
Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are key for brain health. These healthy fats have amazing brain power: Eat at least two servings a week. That counts as good sources of protein.
➡ tuna (canned-light)
Limit your consumption of white (albacore) tuna to no more than 6 oz. per week.
You read that right: Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, and brazil nuts provide various antioxidants, some caffeine, and very little sugar.
- See my article on the benefits of chocolate by clicking this link: Chocolate For Your Heart.
Antioxidants are also important because they prevent the biological deterioration of cells and neurons in the brain.
Vitamins & Minerals:
Although many of the reports on the brain-boosting power of supplements like vitamins B, C, E, beta-carotene, and magnesium are promising, a supplement is only useful to people whose diets are lacking in that specific nutrient.
Read about supplements for heart health here: How To Choose The Best Supplements For A Healthy Heart.
Monounsaturated fat helps with healthy blood flow.
That’s important because your brain is less than 3% of your body weight, but uses over 20% of your blood oxygen.
- Any Nutrient that facilitates blood flow helps keep your brain supplied with vital oxygen.
Fiber Foods, like complex carbohydrates, that contain soluble fiber can slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream and increase serotonin, the “feel good” chemical, which decreases mood swings.
- If your diet is missing some essential nutrients, it will hurt your ability to concentrate, have positive perceptions, think clearly and constructively.
Eating too much or too little can also interfere with feeling well, being alert, and functioning in an effective manner.
- A heavy meal may make you feel tired, while too few calories can result in distracting hunger pangs.
As always, If you have a medical condition or are taking prescription medications, please check with your doctor to make sure these tips are compatible choices for you.
Making even minor changes in your eating patterns can have an impact on maintaining an optimistic view of life, and the capacity to feel good and think clearly.
I invite you to post your experience with any of these ideas or add some that have worked for you.