Certain foods can have a positive effect on our mood. These “mood foods” can put you in a good mood, lower stress sensitivity, provide warmth, liven you up, and dispel sleepiness – it’s easier than you might think to eat and be happy.
It’s the nutrients in these “mood foods” that are responsible for their positive effects. The key substance is the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is produced in the brain and can make you feel good. Since serotonin consumed in foods cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, it is better to provide the brain with nutrients that are needed to produced serotonin. Serotonin production can be promoted by consuming foods containing the protein building block tryptophan. Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin and is converted to serotonin in the brain. These nutrients include the amino acid tryptophan, which is found, among others, in cocoa powder and in the protein of nuts, meat, and fish. Also, B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, and iron assist in serotonin production.
The following foods have a very high content of tryptophan:
- Legumes: includes green peas, beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, soybeans
- Fish: tuna, mackerel, salmon, halibut, codfish, trout
- Grain products: brans, oats, sorghum, spelt flour, buckwheat
- Seeds and nuts: almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, cashews
- Meat, poultry, and sausage products: pork, ham (cooked), chicken, beef, smoked pork chops, rabbit, goose
The reward system also has an effect on our wellbeing. Certain foods are linked with happy memories, giving you positive feelings when you eat them. Also important is how something smells, tastes, and feels in the mouth, like ice cream, which melts slowly in the mouth.
Do you know your personal feel-good foods?
Not all good-mood foods are necessarily good for you too. If you have a delayed food allergy, some of these foods may cause stomach ache or headache instead of making you feel good. The ImuPro blood test made available in Canada exclusively by FITLabs is a great way to discover your personal feel-good foods.