The glow on your cheeks after a night of heady lovemaking, the runner’s high you experience after a rigorous workout and even the euphoric rush you feel after devouring a spicy dish is all due to the release of the happy chemicals, endorphins. Produced in the brain as neurotransmitters, endorphins are known to reduce pain or stress and help you have that elated feeling. There are several gastronomic indulgences available in nature's club that can help you savour this rhapsody. Talk about food for thought! By Sherley
Bad mood is an epidemic deteriorating the quality of life. Stress, anxiety and irritation – all contribute as mood depressors. The quickest yet the most harmful way of ‘fixing’ your mood is to buy over the counter anti-depressants. Exercises, activities and positive thinking are some of the ways to release endorphins that are responsible for mood change. One of the easiest methods, however, to increase the body's natural mechanism of producing endorphins is to eat certain food that can act as mood boosters.
Chocolate is the proven number one happiness ambrosia. Well it’s not chocolate as such but the flavanol rich seeds of cacao tree, the cacao beans found in most of the chocolate products that do the needful. The American Association for the Advancement of Science presented evidence that chocolate consumption can be good for the brain. One can always indulge in dark chocolate instead of calorie laden ones; these are believed to add years to your life and studies reveal that they are also subtle aphrodisiacs.
Now a bit of good news for zealous calorie watchers! Believe it or not, a little fat can actually lift you from the doldrums. It is best to eat healthy food any given day. However, too little fat in the diet can leave you feeling distraught. Different schools of thought state that low oil foods are not tasty compared to fatty food. All arguments aside, one can always choose healthy fat options such as the monosaturated fats found in nuts, olive and fish oil.
• Brazil nuts, almonds and pistachios are rich in monosatrated fats.
• Sesame seed or sesame oil is rich in calcium and protein and a very good antioxidant
• The omega-3 fatty acid in seafood is an eliminator of depression and keeps the brain healthy. Tuna and eggs are good sources of selenium. They act as stress busters and help increase alertness.
Spice it up
Renowned consultant dietician Dharini Krishnan acknowledges that not just the selenium rich nuts but even spices and herbs act as anti-depressants and are immensely therapeutic. Some of the spices have the highest amount of antioxidants.
• Saffron - trials have proven that the yellow spice is an amazing anti depressant.
• Chillies - they are believed to have mood elevating effects by releasing endorphins which in return stimulate the release of a brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for excitement and alertness.
• Cardamom - has been used in ayurvedic treatments in India for over 1000 years as an anti-depressant.
• Turmeric - increases both the seratonin and dopamine levels that help improve the brains function and lighten up your mood.
Consultant dietician Gomathy Gouthaman says that improper bowel movements can also contribute to mood swings and that the lack of essential proteins and vitamins can aggravate degenerative diseases adding to a bad mood day. Folic acid deficiency in the diet is a leading factor of depression.
• Green leafy vegetables - spinach and cabbage top the chart. Rich in folic acid they contribute to mood changes helping reduce depression.
• Chicken for the soul - chicken and turkey are truly soul foods as they contain high levels of serotonin which help fight unhappy feelings.
• Strawberries - in addition to being a good laxative rich in natural sugar, these red attention grabbers are carbohydrate free and contain some amount of fibre making them rich in antioxidants. Strawberries help reduce body toxins and invigorate better mood.
• Bananas- these have been studied to have happy molecules and are rich in endorphins and potassium that help energise the body instantly. The abundance of starchy carbohydrates found in bananas helps sustain good mood and makes the fruit an ideal snack.
It is a myth that sugar releases tension or is a mood changer. Unfortunately it is hard to resist anything sweet and it is a shame that it falls in the bad mood food category. Sugar when consumed instantly mixes with your bloodstream and gives an immediate boost which is mistaken as a mood changer. After an hour or so your body will come back to its normal temperament and in some cases even make you lethargic and sleepy.
Eating right is not a difficult task and does not demand a plan though some believe in having one. It is all about making the right choices and what better way to start this New Year than by eating what your heart desires but in a balanced fashion.