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When we feel sad or depressed, we sometimes turn to the food. The taste of chocolate, pizza or ice cream can comfort and reassure us. In English, this is called the ‘comfort food’. But does that really make us happier? Is there a connection between food and mood?
Nutrition and well-being are connected. One person is standing in the kitchen with an apple in one hand and broccoli in the other.
Every time we eat something, we make a decision about what we do with our body. But how often do we think about the consequences of the ingredients we absorb? And how can our diet not only affect our physical health but also our mood?
Balanced Food, Balanced Mood
The current research shows a strong connection between the food we eat daily and our emotional well-being. Some studies have found that healthy eating can not only improve mood, it can even lower the risk of depression.
Our intestine is one of the most important regulators of our immune system. He also controls neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine. These are all linked to depression. It therefore suggests that foods that promote the production of these neurotransmitters have a positive influence on our mood. This also applies to vitamin-rich food.
Which food improves our mood?
Avoid sugary, caffeinated drinks and alcohol – especially if you feel bad over a long period of time. High-sugar foods put a strain on our mood. And stimulants as well. Treat yourself to a cup of green tea instead. Green tea contains theanine, an amino acid that combats the effects of stress and promotes relaxation.
Eat more fruits and vegetables. In particular, berries that contain a high proportion of antioxidants – they protect against cell damage.
Make sure you get enough protein from beans, lentils and fish. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and they help relieve depressive symptoms. This has been shown by a number of studies.
Spice it up: Turmeric can increase your mood, have an anti-inflammatory effect on your body and prevent various types of diseases.
The Mediterranean Diet
Many researchers find that a Mediterranean diet can have a significant positive effect on your mood . Mediterranean diets include lots of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, fish and whole grains and low red meat and unhealthy fats. A recent study from the Netherlands examined the dietary behavior of 1,634 people. The result : people who ate Mediterranean diet had significantly fewer or no symptoms of depression and anxiety than people with a poor diet.
Do you feel happier immediately when you change your diet?
There are no magic tricks to fight depression. And every person reacts differently. This is especially true at certain stages of life – such as after pregnancy , when the body and hormone balance change. When you feel depressed, it can be difficult to even think about nutrition, let alone eat anything at all. Especially when we lack energy and motivation, changing our eating habits is a difficult challenge. But once you start changing your eating habits, it’s usually easier than you’d expect. And is not it worth trying something new if the bottom line is that you feel better?
What else can I do to improve my mood?
Always find a balance: the best nutrition is varied! Variety is at the forefront of your diet because you should overdo it with a single ingredient or type of food (even if it is supposed to be healthy).
Stay natural: Do not eat canned foods (canned), look for good quality and, if possible, choose organic – especially if you eat meat. A healthy diet can help improve your mood – just knowing that you are doing something good for your body and the environment.
Of course, healthy eating habits are not the only way you can or should treat depressive symptoms. If you feel bad for several weeks, it’s time to take further action. With the Moodpath app, you can find out if you have clinical depression. You’ll also learn how and where to look for help when needed.