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Happy Foods

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Certain foods have compounds that actually "lift your spirits", actually make you feel better, or happier. I read about this in the August issue of Prevention magazine and thought I'd share it with you all.

Walnuts and Flax
The key ingredient is alpha-linolenic acid. In the Nurse's Health Study, women who had the most ALA in their diets were less likely to be depressed. Put simply, when your blood levels of ALA are low, so are YOU. Low levels of ALA are linked to depression by decreasing the level of dopamine, the "feel good" brain chemical.

It is probably the caffeine in coffee wich perks you up. In the same Nurse's Health Study, women who drank four or ore cups of coffee a day were 20 percent less likely to become depressed. Caffeine increases dopamine and serotonin levels within 30 minutes which gives you a little "high". The Prevention article even said that caffeine, which is a psychoactive drug, "works sort of like a harmless crack cocaine" LOL

Clams are loaded with vitamin B12. Low blood levels of B12 can lead to depression. Your brain uses B12 to manufacture dopamine and serotonin. B12 deficiency is actually quite common. As many as 2/5 of adults may have at least marginal B12 deficiencies according to the ongoing Framingham Offspring Study.

Zinc is the main "pick-me-up" ingredient in oysters. You could be deficient in zinc, especially if you're a vegetarian, pregnant, or have a GI disorder such as colitis. Taking zinc could make you happier if you are actually deficient. Brain cells (neurons) are loaded with zinc, especially in areas that govern emotion. This mineral helps create new brain cells and regulate communication between them, which is linked to better mood.

Probiotic bacteria, the healthy kind of bacteria living in your intestines, are found in yogurt if it is labeled "contains live and active cultures" According to a study with mice, these probiotics can alter receptors of the brain neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) which tells your brain to calm down.

Polyphenols may be the reason that chocolate boosts your mood, creating calm and contentment. Some polyphenols act on GABA. Others suppress adenosine which in turn increases the production of dopamine.

Polyphenols are also found in tea, seeds, nuts, berries, olive oil and vegetables. These foods are also basics of the Mediterranean diet. According to a study at Loma Linda University, this diet not only makes you healthy but makes you happy as well.

I'm going to do more research on the Mediterranean Diet and incorporate these super-foods into my diet. Eat healthy ! Be Happy !

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