Have you ever wondered that there is a relationship between food and mood? Food can change your mood and your mood can change the nutritive benefit of food. Hidden hunger, i.e. deficiencies, allergies, blood sugar levels all are adversely impacted by food and leave a significant impact on a person’s state of mind.
FOOD TO CALM THE MOOD
Neurotransmitters produced by the brain are made out of the nutrients present in food. Amino acids present in protein are responsible for making neurotransmitters. So in another way, we can say that food we eat impacts our feel and behavior. Other than that age, sex, medication, environmental factors affect the chemical reactions of the brain.
Amino acid Tryptophan, found in protein-rich foods like eggs, milk, and meat, etc. is a component of a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin is needed for good sleep and controlling depression.
Meals rich in carbohydrates increase serotonin in the brain and make the person feel relaxed and drowsy. That is why, people getting stressed or excited, feel like eating more sweets, junk food to make them feel calm. People with Seasonal Affective Disease (SAD) feel a craving for sweets during the winter season. Irritability and depression due to dark winter days, people suffering from SAD unknowingly eat more of carbohydrates, hot sugary food, sweets, tea, coffee, etc. to get temporary relief from the dark mood and we mistake it and feel that sweets made in winters keep us warm and away from Winter Blues.
CHOCOLATES TO BOOST SPIRITS
Chocolates, the great antidepressants, give an instant lift to our spirits. The so-called “chocolate high” is due to the presence of phenylethylamine, a chemical, labeled as “chemical of love”, which stimulates the nervous system and triggers the release of endorphins, the opium-like compound, which helps in sexual arousal and pleasure. Caffeine and theobromine found in cocoa are central nervous system stimulators in the brain. They enhance cardiovascular function and respiration and in turn improve alertness, lift the spirits and decrease fatigue. Chocolate acts as a medicine for people feeling aggressive, violent, or having suicidal thoughts.
The deficiency of the B vitamin can cause mood change. B12 deficiency is mostly found in vegan and vegetarian people, while alcoholics show both B1 and B12 deficiency. Vitamin B is mostly found in beans, brown rice, egg yolks, fish, nuts, soya beans and wholegrain cereals, dairy products, poultry, and brewer’s yeast.
Mainly found in animal products, vegetarians should include soya milk, yeast, oat flakes, wheat germ, and banana to meet the requirement. B6 Deficiency also shows symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). Vitamin B6 has an indirect effect on mood as it is associated with the breakdown of estrogen hormone in the liver and the production of progesterone. Lack of it causes anxiety and nervous tension.
GLUCOSE AND MOOD SWINGS
Irregular eating patterns are a common cause of mood swings. The long period of fasting causes a breakdown of fat reserved in the body and produces ketone bodies to fuel the body. This causes elation and wakefulness, a reason we observe fasting in meditation.
A carbohydrate-rich diet calms our minds and induces sleep. People who wake up in the morning irritated, as seen mostly in children is due to low blood sugar levels. Similarly, morning sickness in pregnant mothers is also due to low glucose levels in the body. Some people feel irritated after 2 hours of a carbohydrate-rich meal, it happens again because of low blood sugar levels as a high carbohydrate diet triggers more insulin production.
ALCOHOL AND MOOD
Many people drink to forget their worries, lose their inhibitions, and feel more confident. Contrary to popular opinion, ALCOHOL IS NOT A STIMULANT, IT IS A DEPRESSANT. If an excess of alcohol is consumed, brain cells stop working and reasoning power is affected. Body cells are less resistant to any kind of infection, leading to the prey of various kinds of illness.