Feeling low or out of sorts? Your diet may be the culprit. What you eat can have a significant effect on the way you feel! We often feel very lazy and lethargic after eating heavy carb-rich, meals like rice or pasta. We also sometimes may feel alert at night after drinking too much coffee. This is because different foods evoke a different response in our brain cells.
Foods to eat and foods to avoid
Our brain is made up of 60 percent fats and lipids. So it’s essential to supplement our body with essential fatty acids like omega 3 and omega 6. Research has proved that a good amount of these fatty acids helps to prevent degenerative brain diseases. Therefore, ensure you include a lot of nuts, seeds and fatty fish in your daily diet to attain adequate doses of essential fatty acids and omega 3s.
Steer clear from trans fats and saturated fats which are found in ready to eat foods, processed foods and chips. These foods cause hardening of UR arteries and cell membranes, leading to heart damage. They are also not good for your mental health and well-being. Additionally, foods like these cause obstruction in the communication between the neurons in the body.
Proteins and amino acids are the building blocks of our body which promote growth. They also regulate all our neurotransmitters and affect the way we feel and behave. The food that we eat affects the process of these neurotransmitters in our body. This is one of the reasons why we feel extremely lazy after a high carb meal or very alert after a protein-rich meal. The compounds in these foods lead to the release of certain chemicals in our body like epinephrine, dopamine and serotonin all of which affects our moods, sleep patterns and the level of alertness we experience.
Just like our body, our brain also requires a good amount of micronutrients and antioxidants. They help to reduce inflammation and fight off free radicals. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables to ensure you get your daily dose of the important vitamins and minerals. Especially, ensure you are getting adequate amounts of minerals and vitamins like B6, B12, folic acid, zinc, selenium etc. for enhanced cognitive development and better brain health.
Our brain requires a lot of energy and the primary source of this energy is glucose. So it’s important that we eat foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates that give our body good quality glucose and sugars to function correctly. Foods rich in complex carbohydrates include oats, millets, legumes etc. Avoid simple sugars and carbs that can create an immediate spike in your blood glucose levels but at the same time can also create a sudden drop in your blood sugar. This can lead to low energy levels as well as mood swings and mood disorders.
Last but not the least, our body also really needs water and hydration, also called vitamin W. Multiple studies have linked dehydration to increased anxiety, mood swings and even depression. So keep UR body well hydrated to benefit not just UR body but UR brain as well. Aim to drink two-three liters of fluids daily. Hydrate and sip that stress away!
Some foods that can help boost UR mood:
1. Dark chocolates are full of antioxidants and therefore help to lover cortisol and other hormones that cause stress.
2. Salmon & other fatty fish are rich sources of omega-3s that help boost mood by altering the brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin.
3. Selenium-rich foods like whole-wheat pastas, chicken, sunflower seeds, brown rice, oatmeal, eggs etc.
4. Folate-rich foods including lentils, spinach, beans, broccoli, tofu, orange juice, papaya, kidney beans, and soybeans and so on.
5. Protein-rich foods like lean chicken, lean lamb, prawns, fish, turkey, yoghurt, cheese, milk etc.