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June 20, 2024

Foods That Boost Mood Become Hot Health Trend

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Jan 17, 2024

The connection between diet and mental health is gaining more mainstream recognition, as several new studies highlight specific foods that can boost mood. With rising rates of depression and anxiety, nutritionists believe food may offer a low-risk way to improve outcomes.

Emerging Research Links Food to Feelings

Over the past decade, the field of nutritional psychiatry has grown rapidly. Once viewed as an alternative approach, the medical community now widely accepts diet’s role in mental health.

Recent research reveals neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin that regulate mood are sensitive to changes in gut bacteria and inflammation. Eating patterns can alter bacteria ratios and inflammation levels, suggesting food does impact emotions both directly and indirectly.

Dr. Uma Naidoo, a nutritional psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, explains:

“Diet absolutely has an effect on your brain structure and mood. Food provides the basic building blocks for neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, so diet directly impacts their production.”

With depression projected to become the leading global disability by 2030, scientists are motivated to find new treatments. Lifestyle approaches like nutrition offer a promising first line of defense before turning to medications that carry side effects.

Mood-Lifting Compounds Found in Whole Foods

Rather than focusing on single nutrients, researchers now aim to identify patterns of healthy eating that support mental wellbeing. Several key food groups contain compounds uniquely suited to boost mood.

1. Leafy Greens, Eggs, Meat Support Dopamine

  • Dopamine promotes motivation, pleasure, and focus
  • Dietary building blocks support healthy dopamine levels
    • Tyrosine: Eggs, meat, fish, dairy, beans, nuts
    • Iron: Spinach, beef, turkey, lentils
    • Vitamin D: Salmon, tuna, eggs, fortified dairy
Foods High in Dopamine-Boosting Nutrients

| Food             | Tyrosine | Iron | Vitamin D | 
| -----------------|---------|------| ----------|
| Eggs             | High    | Some | Some      |
| Spinach          | Some    | High | None      |  
| Salmon           | Some    | Some | High      |
| Lentils          | Some    | High | None      |

2. Berries, Tea Contain Antioxidants

  • Oxidative stress linked to depressed mood
  • Antioxidants counter stress and inflammation
    • Anthocyanins: Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries
    • Theaflavins: Black and green tea

3. Prebiotics Feed Healthy Gut Bacteria

  • Gut microbes produce neurochemicals, interact with mood centers
  • Prebiotics stimulate growth of beneficial bacteria
    • Inulin: Onions, garlic, asparagus
    • Resistant starch: Oats, cold pasta, beans

4. Herbs and Spices Have Medicinal Properties

  • Curcumin, gingerol, capsaicin have anti-inflammatory effects
  • Rosmarinic acid boosts mood-regulating neurotransmitters
    • Turmeric: Curcumin
    • Ginger: Gingerol
    • Cayenne: Capsaicin
    • Rosemary: Rosmarinic acid

Blue Monday Highlights Role of Diet in Depression

The third Monday in January, dubbed “Blue Monday,” has become known as the most depressing day of the year. Short days, holiday bills coming due, and failed New Years resolutions converge to diminish mood.

While external factors contribute, Dr. Naidoo notes underlying inflammation and neurotransmitter imbalance often set the stage for seasonal mood drops. She recommends foods to correct these issues before they progress.

“Rather than waiting until you experience symptoms, use diet to build resilience against downs during stressful times of year.”

Foods to Boost Mood on Blue Monday:

  • Leafy greens: Spinach, kale, Swiss chard
  • Salmon: High vitamin D and omega-3 fats
  • Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries
  • Nuts and seeds: Walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds
  • Tea: Green, black, or herbal caffeine-free

Future Outlook: Nutritional Psychiatry Poised for Growth

While research continues to uncover optimal dietary patterns for mental health, current evidence already demonstrates food’s impact on mood extends far beyond short-term energy boosts.

Psychiatrist Drew Ramsey explains:

“We’ve known for a long time that what we eat affects how we feel right after a meal. But we now understand diet influences more enduring aspects of mood regulated by neurotransmitters and inflammation.”

With a growing toolbox of mood-friendly foods to choose from, experts expect nutritional psychiatry treatment plans to become more common. Dietary changes offer a low risk method to stabilize mood before prescribing antidepressants that may cause side effects or be difficult to withdraw from.

While nutrition cannot replace standard care, it does appear poised to take a front seat beside traditional modalities. Dr. Naidoo sums up the future landscape:

“Instead of an alternate approach, food-based interventions represent an underutilized complement to medications and therapy to support mental health. I foresee nutritional psychiatry plans becoming foundational elements of treatment rather than fringe suggestions.”

The next frontier will involve personalized nutrition plans tailored to individual needs based on genetics, biomarkers, and microbiome profiles. For now, incorporating mood-lifting foods provides a safe first step towards mental wellness for all.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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