Happiness is something that is so sought after people seem to get lost chasing it. Changing our eating habits and incorporating foods that encourage happiness, wellbeing and satisfaction is a great way to start on the journey toward improving our mood and general outlook. An easy way to encourage a good mood is to consume foods high in tryptophan, which is converted in our bodies to a chemical called serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that is related to our mood and general wellbeing. When serotonin levels are low, we can feel anxious, depressed, lost, and a general sense of unease. Tryptophan cannot be produced in the human body, it must be consumed, so it is important to incorporate tryptophan-containing products into your diet. Read on for some yummy suggestions!
FLAXSEED & FLAXSEED OIL
Flaxseeds contain high levels of tryptophan and omega-3 fatty acids. The serotonin-related benefits of omega-3 fatty acid consumption have been well-documented, with these supplements becoming increasingly prescribed in the treatment of depression and related mental illnesses. Most of the brain’s structural composition is fatty-acid cells along a chain of omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming around 2 tablespoons of flaxseeds or flaxseed oil daily is enough to see a difference in mood.
Bananas contain a high amount of important nutrients. They contain tryptophan, as well as vitamins A & B6, potassium, phosphorous, iron, carbohydrate and fibre. Mood-boosting carbs assist in the absorption of tryptophan and B6 helps to convert tryptophan into 5-HTP, which is then converted into serotonin. Eating a banana a day is a great rule, and will increase your serotonin levels in no time!
When I was living in Melbourne, I was lucky enough to have chickens in my backyard thanks to my housemate, who were fed amazing food, and produced astoundingly good quality eggs. Because of this, eggs quickly became a staple in my diet, and have remained so ever since. I am most definitely happier for it! As we know, tryptophan is converted to serotonin, which is why eggs can have a calming effect. They also contain the amino acid tyrosine, which synthesises dopamine and norepinepherine – two neurotransmitters which promote alertness and mental activity.
Dark chocolate has long been touted as a natural anti-anxiety remedy, and there is truth to this claim. Research conducted by the University of California found that dark chocolate contains naturally occurring chemicals called flavonols, which increases nitric oxide levels in the blood stream. This increase encourages better blood flow and relaxation of the arteries. They also found that the chilled and relaxed feeling you experience after eating a piece of dark chocolate is due to the serotonin boost in the brain thanks to the tryptophan dark chocolate contains. Dark chocolate need not be considered a guilty pleasure or a ‘naughty’ food, but the dark chocolate you do eat should be of very high quality, and high cocoa (or cacao) content – preferably cacao. My favourite would be any chocolate by Loving Earth! 🙂
These tasty treats are just SOME of many foods that contain mood-boosting goodies, and are easy additions to most diets. Just remember to seek advice from a qualified medical professional before making changes to or supplementing foods in your diet, and honour your body. This post is for information purposes only.
Article by Rachel Gill
Rachel is a yoga teacher & student, mother and freelance writer based on the NSW mid-north coast, Australia. You can connect with her via her holistic lifestyle blog ‘Inspire The Wild‘, or on instagram, facebook and twitter @rachelmarieyoga.