We’ve all met that uber happy, healthy person that inspires us to put down our bagel with cream cheese and consider a smoothie and “energy ball” instead.
Written by Kiki Athanas, In-House Wellness Expert @ Calii Love and Founder of MEByKiki.com.
But what is it about food that actually affects our mood? Does it just so happens that people who eat “clean” also have naturally more peppy, positive attitudes? Or could there be a real reason behind why how the foods we put into our bodies actually triggers certain emotions and can also be blocks to others?
While there’s no guarantee that sipping on a green juice is going to make you a more uplifting person – there are scientific findings from large studies to suggest that munching on certain foods (and consequently absorbing certain nutrients) can help to prevent or reduce your risk of depression. Furthermore, there’s a link between digestion itself and happiness, as we’ll soon dive into just why that is – and what you can do to ensure you’re fueling up for happy days.
WHAT YOU SHOULD BE LOOKING FOR
In order to get straight into it, let’s spell out exactly what you should be looking to incorporate more into your diet for the benefit of your mental health:
• Eat more fruits and veggies on the daily. In fact, the main part of your diet should be plant-based.
• Incorporate legumes (peas, beans, lentils) into your meals several times each week.
• Reduce your intake of processed foods (snack foods, cakes, cookies, doughnuts, and deep fried foods, breaded and fried meats) as much as possible. These foods are not only fatty, they are often loaded with toxic chemicals and preservatives that will not do your health any good.
• Add small amounts of fat from whole unsalted nuts, avocado, coconut oil, and olive oil daily as these contain fibre and other health-promoting nutrients, as well as help us to feel satiated for longer.
• “A Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, whole grains, and lean protein such as chicken and fish, and low in red meat and unhealthy fats,” states Harvard Medical School
You’ll notice that the above “protocol” isn’t necessarily pushing a particular diet or set of lifestyle ideals – should you choose paleo, gluten-free, vegan living etc is ultimately your choice. Just be mindful that in order to foster your potential for utmost happiness, incorporating as much of the above into your eating habits will help support these positive goals.
Speaking of eating habits, it’s worth noting that even if you’re following the “perfect” diet, you may still suffer from emotional upset that is still gut-related due to your body being unable to properly assimilate and absorb the nutrients from these happiness-enhancing foods.
Since the majority of our neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, GABA, and Acetylcholine are manufactured through the digestive process, it is virtually impossible to feel like you’re best ever when your brain is literally stressed out due to the lack of essential nutrients. Try practicing mindful eating to get your body into “rest and digest” state whereby your entire system is most prepared to process the food you put into it.
If you still need a boost, trying adding a powerful anti inflammatory into your supplement regime like licorice root (bonus: it’s in our gut health dust: “Power”, which you can add to any smoothie or beverage on the Calii Love menu), or get healing in the kitchen with turmeric (or try it in our summer fresh AWAKE smoothie which is also vegan and gluten-free).
STILL LOOKING FOR RELIEF?
Of course, if you’re still looking to seek relief when it comes to a happy-body-mind, my final suggestion is to seek the advice and support of a certified nutritional practitioner who can provide you with the customized testing and meal plan that’s right for you. There’s an abundance of great options here – one of my personal recommendations would be to contact Bryan Hardy as he specializes in this very thing as a Digestion and Recovery Coach!