Brain Waves with Debra Rose

Set Your Mood

We know certain behaviors elevate our mood and keep us healthy; getting enough sleep, exercise, drinking plenty of water, access to natural light, monitoring our stress levels and being social.  With ever evolving information about nutrition, we know more than ever before about foods that optimize our well-being.  More research is illustrating how we can elevate our moods by harnessing the power of nutrients in our food.   We are in control of very little, yet this is an area in our lives that we can influence through our daily choices.

One way to have a more positive state of mind is to regulate what is on our plates.

Fats (yes – Fats)! – Over half of our brain is made up of fat, and we need to consume (healthy) fats to decrease inflammation and produce neurotransmitters for cognitive performance.  Omega-3 fats improve your mental health by reducing your risk of depression, are critical for learning and memory while helping to manage decision making and emotion.

B Vitamins – Decreased levels of B-6, B-12 and other B vitamins are directly correlated to higher rates of depression.  If you consume alcohol, you are at risk for depleting your body of these essential nutrients as alcohol blocks the absorption.  Without an adequate amount of B vitamins there is a higher risk of anxiety, fatigue, and irritability.

Amino Acids (Proteins) – Serotonin has become a household word.  The natural chemical responsible for increasing “happiness,” we need amino acids to maintain the feelings of calm and well-being that serotonin brings.  Tryptophan is a star amino acid for accelerating mood-enhancing effects and energy.

So where do we maximize these essentials?  Through food.

The best for the B’s includes Wild Salmon, a low-mercury choice (as high-mercury is linked to depression and mood swings) that boosts nervous system and brain development.  A lack of fatty fish consumption is linked to less impulse control and higher levels of anxiety.

Leafy greens, found at our local farmers markets include spinach, romaine, collard greens and kale, are best served raw or steamed to retain nutrients.  The B vitamins, iron and fiber found in these powerhouses balances our energy, positive feelings, and basic brain functions.  Also found locally are eggs, for producing antioxidants, neurotransmitters, and regulating brain preservation susceptible to oxidative damage as we age.  For those that can consume nuts, almonds are packed with protein, healthy fats, magnesium, and fiber.  Also an antioxidant, almonds support cognitive function and memory.

Blueberries found locally are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant superstars, protecting against brain aging and diseases, as well functioning as a liaison between brain cells.  Just one cup a day will make a difference in how you feel.  And of course, there is chocolate, responsible for mood-enhancing effects and feelings of calmness.  Quality varieties of dark chocolate made from 80% or more cocoa can immediately boost your mood, cognitive functions, and energy.  For more data, ask anyone you know or consume a piece as soon as possible and note how you feel.  Regulating your mood can be joyful, powerful, and accessible, and everyone benefits.