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Wellness Wednesday:  Good Food Good Mood

By Sophy Mott posted 04-24-2019 05:00 PM


As we continue our FCSfit Year Three focus on emotional health and relationship well-being, we hear from Lisa Brooks, PhD, RD, (pictured below) on a relationship that may often be overlooked -- the one between what we eat and how we feel. It may even make you rethink dinner tonight! Brooks is a director-at-large for the AAFCS Board of Directors, a member of the Illinois Affiliate, and an Associate Professor at Eastern Illinois University in the nationally accredited School of Family & Consumer Sciences. You can connect with Lisa in person at the upcoming 110th #AAFCSac, where she'll be presenting, "The Blue Zones: Powerful Lessons for Living Well," in the "Trends and Innovations" strand.

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Research suggests that there may be significance to the maxim, “good food, good mood.”  Eating the right foods such as the ones listed below may lead to improved feelings of well-being, happiness, and even joy. 

Feel Good by Boosting Serotonin Levels:  Serotonin is a mood-altering neurotransmitter in the brain.  High serotonin levels are associated with diminished food cravings; a sense of calm; improved sleep quality; and, feelings of happiness.  Foods that can boost serotonin levels include daily servings of quality carbohydrates such as whole fruits, sweet potatoes, quinoa, whole grain pasta, oatmeal, brown or wild rice, lentils, and beans. Also, for the serotonin to be produced in the brain, an amino acid called tryptophan will be needed.  Foods rich in tryptophan are lean meats, poultry, fish, and peanuts. 

Improve Your Mood with Omega-3’s:  Research suggests that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids is associated with positive moods, less irritability, and reduced symptoms of depression.  Unfortunately, 90% of adults in the United States are not meeting the recommendations.  The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are from real foods (not supplements) such as wild-caught salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts. Two to three times per week, aim to eat about a 3.5 ounce portion of fatty fish such as salmon to maximize the health benefits from omega-3 fatty acids. 

De-stress with Leafy Greens:  Leafy green vegetables are rich in folate which has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression, fatigue, and insomnia.  De-stress by enjoying daily servings of fresh dark leafy greens such as spinach (a powerhouse), asparagus, romaine lettuce, and broccoli. 

Be Calm and Carry On with Green Tea:  Looking for ways to reverse the afternoon slump?  Relax and refresh with a delicious cup of green tea.  Not only is green tea packed with powerful antioxidants, research suggests that green tea consumption may promote increased feelings of alertness and calmness

Experience the Joy of Chocolate:   Good news for chocolate lovers!  Chocolate consumption has been shown to be a mood booster. A recent study showed that those who ate a moderate portion of chocolate reported reduced tiredness, elevated mood, and joy.  For best results, develop a taste for the dark, heart healthy chocolate (70% cacao or higher) and limit portions of chocolate to no more than 2 oz. per day (approximately 2 squares of a chocolate bar). 

Disclaimer:  This information is not intended to replace the advice of a physician or to serve as a guide to self-treatment.  Always seek competent medical help for any health condition.