WE ARE WHAT WE EAT
After checking out some research, it really does seem to confirm this statement of we are is what we eat, at least on some levels. If, for instance, you consume hot and spicy food, there is a great chance that you may become hot headed easier than others. Foods that we eat can significantly affect our moods. I love spicy foods and I would not call myself an aggressive person. I don't think others would consider this a trait of mine either. Moderation is the key.
Food doesn't just give us energy, it truly does impact our moods. It has been helping me make better food choices. Knowing that different foods trigger different moods, I am able to choose foods that will help me get to my desirable moods.
Just think about it for a minute. If you are like me, when I am feeling down, I crave something sweet. It could be a glazed doughnut, a candy bar, or ice cream. When I eat these type of foods, I almost instantly feel better. The scientific reason is because of the hormones released in our brains when we consume high calorie foods. (dopamine) Besides sweet foods, high protein foods help to improve motivation and concentration.
Getting down to the scientific reason of why food affect our moods in so many different ways is all based on our gastrointestinal tract where billions of bacteria live. The food we eat directly affects our balance of good and bad bacteria and influences the production of the chemical messengers that are constantly carrying messages from our gut to our brain. These neurotransmitters carry the feel good hormones from these foods to help make us feel happy.
The same goes for other kinds of foods, let's call them Mood Foods.
Let's say if I am feeling agitated when it is time to go to bed, it is as if my mind is running like a motor. A study did find that a glass of tart cherry juice might help if I had it in the morning and again at night before bed. The reason being is that the cherries are high in melatonin which initiates the sleep cycle. Somehow this hormone is tied into our biological clocks about when it is time to wind down.
It would be nice if I could get to my Happy Place (the beach) anytime that I am feeling anxious and need to relax. An easier way may be to munch on a few Brazil nuts. They are loaded with selenium. Just one ounce contains over 700% of our recommended daily intake. The greater the selenium intake has been linked to lower anxiety levels and improvement of moods.
Then, if I am feeling stressed, I tend to gravitate to junk food instead of foods that could actually reduce my stress level and maybe even prevent it from happening. Snacking on vitamin C rich bell peppers and citrus fruits help to lower levels of cortisol, which is the stress hormone that takes over the fight or flight mode in all of us. Research has shown that large doses of vitamin C may actually stop stress before it starts simply by reducing the amount of cortisol released.
I suppose that it really is true in that we are what we eat. It is important to stay nourished and to know why. Four important things to remember is that trans fats actually may prevent the formation of omega-3 fatty acids which have been proven to elevate our moods. We all know what a quick jolt of refined sugar does to us. Gets us moving and going BUT is it worth it? There is going to be a sugar level crash that will leave us irritated and tired. Stay hydrated. Even when we are just a little bit dehydrated it is easier to lose focus and have that headache with fatigue. I found it easier to invest in a water bottle that lets me know how much I have had to drink. I have discovered that when the water level in my bottle has not gone down, a headache comes on much easier.
There are fruits that are called power fruits for a reason. Kiwis and blueberries are known to be at the top of the list. Tests were done showing that people who drank smoothies made with blueberries did better on memory and concentration tests than those who did not. Coincidence? I need all the help I can get on memory and concentration, so I will not question that research.