Have you ever resorted to sugary foods when feeling down, anxious or tired? Based on previous research, we've found that eating sugary foods is the alternative that most people resort to when taking a nap is not a possibility. But, why is it that some foods make us feel much better instantly while some don't? The reason for this is that foods have molecules that affect our brain and therefore affect how we feel. It is important to identify what these chemicals cause and in what foods they can be found so we can smartly “eat our way to a better mood” when needed.
I’ll start by explaining one of the most relevant food molecules: serotonin. This chemical is mostly responsible for a person’s mood and happiness levels. It is no coincidence that when we eat chocolate we tend to feel happy given that one of the foods that makes our brain release serotonin is chocolate. So next time you are feeling down or unmotivated, try eating a piece of chocolate, preferably dark as its lower in processed sugars, and see if it lifts your mood up. Moderation is key, avoid having too much chocolate because it might lead to feelings of guilt or a stomach ache.
Very similar to serotonin, dopamine also plays a key role in making us ‘feel good’. Many fruits and vegetables make the brain release dopamine, bananas being one of them. According to research conducted by the University of Wollongong Australia, bananas not only make you happy because of their high levels of tryptophan, but they also help with concentration and brain function during exam or stressful times.
Lastly, Coffee. Caffeine also stimulates the release of dopamine and serves as an energy booster. However, just like too much chocolate, too much caffeine can also have negative effects such as anxiety and stress so try cutting down caffeine intake after lunch when possible.
Here is is a quick- recipe for a smoothie that combines these 3 ingredients to lift up your mood and satisfy your sweet tooth without unnecessary unrefined sugars:
½ cup cold brewed coffee
8 ounces sliced frozen bananas
1 ½ cup milk of choice
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Place all ingredients in a blender
Process until smooth and creamy
Want to learn more ways to improve your wellbeing? Read more of our blogs here.