Lockdown blues? Dark chocolate, yoghurt, fatty fish among foods that can uplift your mood during COVID-19 pandemic
Dipping into a bowl of barley, quinoa, rice or millets every day can not only improve your digestion and help you lose weight but also boosts your mood.
We often talk about guilty pleasure foods and use the phrase 'eating our feelings away' when talking about indulging in food that makes us feel better -- but it’s almost always used to describe unhealthy food items.
Does what you eat really have anything to do with your mood though? Yes, it does, but not in the way we often think. You might believe the right diet is essential just for the sake of your waistline and overall physical health, but the right food is vital for your mental health too. In fact, where your mood is concerned, certain (healthy) foods are often considered to be more beneficial than others. Given the rise in mental health issues due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, getting a clear idea about which foods can help the most at this time is necessary.
The link between food and mood
A study published in the journal Antioxidants in 2019 reveals that there’s a clear link between dietary patterns, specific foods, nutrients such as antioxidants, and depressive disorders. While healthy eating patterns like the Mediterranean diet are linked with reduced risk of depression, high-fat diets that include sugar-sweetened beverages and foods are associated with a greater incidence of mood disorders.
This is primarily because what you eat directly affects cognitive abilities, memory function and emotions via neurotransmitters. The interactions between different foods and neurotransmitters are of great importance here, and therefore the consumption of foods which activate positive emotions or nerve impulses must be included in your diet.
It’s very important to remember, however, that consuming a few foods just when you’re feeling low isn’t going to help. You must include the following foods in your regular diet to avoid mood disorders and depression in the long run.
1. Fruits and berries
Whether you eat loads of oranges, bananas, strawberries, blueberries or a humble apple every day, you’re increasing your intake of dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The consumption of fruits and berries of all kinds are known to reduce oxidative stress, inflammation and mood disorders as well.
2. Fermented foods
Yoghurt, kimchi and other fermented foods can work wonders on your digestion as well as your mood if recent research is anything to go by. According to a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology in 2014, the microbial action performed by fermented foods can improve brain function and alleviate symptoms of mood disorders by magnifying anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities in the body.
3. Dark chocolate
A study in Nutrition Reviews in 2013 reveals that cacao — the source of all chocolate — has high concentrations of antioxidants like polyphenols and flavanols. This study is among the many that suggest eating dark chocolate improves cognitive function and mood. Now, before you go hoard all types of chocolate, remember that moderation is important and the darker the chocolate the better it is for your mood.
4. Fatty fish
What do the diets that are most effective against depression, including the Mediterranean and Japanese diets, have in common? Fish, of course. Salmon, tuna, herring, anchovies and swordfish are just a few varieties which are packed with vitamins, minerals and especially omega-3 fatty acids. These fish are known to improve brain function and reduce oxidative stress as well as cell damage.
5. Whole grains
Dipping into a bowl of barley, quinoa, rice or millets every day can not only improve your digestion and help you lose weight but also boosts your mood. This is because high-fibre foods like whole grains help regulate neurotransmitters while also packing quite a punch with their high vitamin, mineral and phytochemical content.
For more information, read our article on Depression: Symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention.
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