How Foods Affect Your Moods

Did you know that eating habits have an effect on state of mind? If you're like many people, you may find that you feel sleepy after lunch. Or, if you haven't eaten in awhile, you're impatient and angry. When it comes to the food-mood connection, we're just beginning to understand how the quality and quantity of the nutrients available in our food impact our emotional resiliency and stability.

What we eat affects our production of neurotransmitters and hormones, as well as our overall energy levels, and the quality of our synaptic connections. Plus, stress boosts levels of epinephrine (adrenaline), and other stimulating neurotransmitters, while suppressing calming ones. Skipping meals, consuming caffeine and sugar for energy, and fast food meals make this effect worse.

How can you make sure that what you eat helps your moods in a positive way? Brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, regulate your moods. Serotonin and gamma aminobutyric acid (GAMA) calm us, while dopamine stimulate us. Keeping these in balance also balances our mood. And, certain foods can impact this balance. Proteins like those found in meats like chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, and legumes-these provide chemical units known as amino acids. Amino acids form the foundation of your neurotransmitters.

Serotonin: This keeps your mood upbeat. Fish, eggs, chicken turkey, and other meats all contain the amino acid tryptophan, which your body makes serotonin from. Iron, zinc, and the vitamins B3, B6 and C help the enzyme reactions for this process.

GABA: This neurotransmitter keeps your mind calm and focused. Halibut, legumes, brown rice, and spinach contain the amino acid glutamine, which your body converts into GABA. Vitamins B3, B6 and B12 help the enzyme reactions for this process.

Dopamine: This is the neurotransmitter that makes you feel like you're full of energy. Your body converts the amino acid tyrosine (found in protein) to dopamine, and you can find extra tyrosine in almonds, avocados, dairy products, and pumpkin & sesame seeds. Vitamin B6, magnesium and zinc help the enzyme reactions for this process.

Norepinephrine: This is also a simulating neurotransmitter, which your body makes from dopamine with the help of the mineral copper, and vitamins B6 and C.

How to fuel your brain:

First - eat whole foods that are rich in protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.

Second - eat a protein rich breakfast every day, such as eggs with whole-grain toast or fresh fruit.

Third - cook foods lightly (saute or stir fry) - overcooking alters foods protein structure, making it harder for your body to process.

Fourth - avoid fast foods.

Fifth - eat regular meals and make sure you get good quality protein.

Lastly - add supplements to your diet. A good quality, high-potency multivitamin or B-complex vitamin. You want to look for 10 times the recommended daily value of vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6. And, add fish oils (omega-3's) to your diet as well. Omega-3 fats also are essential for normal brain function. Your brain is about 70% fat, and needs omega-3's to help assist brain cells in communicating with each other. Plus, three different studies published in June 2006's issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry found that omega-3 fish oils can ease depression and mood disorders, and lower suicide risk. Just keep in mind that if you're using blood thinners and other medications, omega-3 supplements might interfere, so you might want to talk to your doctor first.

Just remember - what you fuel your body with is what is also feeding your brain!

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About The Author, Blachinet
Bob Lachinet is the owner of Fitness 4 Home Superstore, a specialty fitness equipment dealer recently named the #1 choice for home fitness equipment in Arizona by BestFitnessDealers.com! Find the best specialty fitness equipment dealer in Arizona - visit our site today.