Proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle are of fundamental importance to prevent and combat mood disorders . It is in fact recognized that certain foods are able to decrease some symptoms related to anxiety and depression and that, therefore, can help us regain a good mood .
The mechanisms that link nutrition and mood are many; among these, the introduction of the energy needed daily to face the day, the introduction of vitamins and micronutrients useful for the proper functioning of the nervous system and the increase of serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter (i.e. a brain chemical mediator) that serves to control mood and make us feel better.
- Carbohydrates: they are our body ‘s preferred ready-to-use energy source. They must provide about 55-60% of the total daily calories.
- Proteins: they are a source of amino acids, in particular tyrosine and tryptophan, which help improve depression and concentration.
- Fats: among them, the fatty acids of the Omega series (in particular 3, but also 6 and 9) should be privileged since they improve brain functions and their deficiency can cause fatigue, poor memory and fluctuating mood.
- B vitamins, folates: water-soluble, they are all useful for brain functions and necessary for the production of serotonin .
- Vitamin A, Vitamin E: fat-soluble, excellent antioxidants, have a protective function on neurons and the brain.
- Vitamin C : water-soluble, it is a powerful antioxidant .
- Vitamin D: Deficiency in this fat-soluble vitamin can cause feelings of sadness and apathy.
- Magnesium, zinc, selenium, chromium: increase serotonin and melatonin levels and improve mood and sleep quality .
- Iron: Low levels of this nutrient cause fatigue and apathy as it is involved in the transport of oxygen .
Due to their content in the nutrients mentioned above, some foods can help us improve our mood.
- Cereals and derivatives, preferably wholemeal : sources of carbohydrates and fiber, they constantly stimulate the production of serotonin . We should have a portion of it with each meal.
- Dark green leafy vegetables : rich in folate and magnesium; to be consumed at least once a day , without forgetting the other vegetables, sources of vitamins, mineral salts, fiber and antioxidants.
- Nuts: source of magnesium and Omega-3 fatty acids ; to be consumed in small quantities, for breakfast or as a healthy snack.
- Seeds: sunflower, flax, sesame, hemp, pumpkin, poppy, etc; useful for their richness in B vitamins, vitamin E, tryptophan, magnesium, selenium, iron, zinc, Omega-3 fatty acids. Ideal for enriching salads, yogurt and many other dishes.
- Chilli: the capsaicin contained in it promotes the synthesis of endorphins , essential substances for psychophysical well-being thanks to their multiple functions, in particular the euphoric one.
- Chocolate (with cocoa content of at least 70%): it is considered by many to be the best “natural antidepressant” , thanks to its content in phenylethylamine, a substance similar to serotonin that is able to decrease the production of cortisone, stress hormone. In addition, it is rich in antioxidant polyphenols.
- Condiments: in particular sunflower and grape seed oil, rich in Omega series fatty acids . To be used in moderate quantities, preferably raw on food.
- Water: essential for our body! Adequate hydration helps to counteract restlessness, headaches and moodiness. A daily water intake of at least 8-10 glasses is recommended.
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