When I talk about living to the full, I don’t think of abstract concepts, but I refer to the optimization of the real and concrete aspects of a person’s life: mental state, physical state and obviously also state of d ‘soul.
Have you ever asked a person who is obviously in a bad mood “how are you?” it certainly does not indicate happiness. It goes without saying that mood affects our perception of well-being of the moment and in the long run also on that of living a life to the best of our ability.
Do we know the mechanisms that affect the mood and is it possible to manipulate them in some way? We can find an answer in neurotransmitters: these are chemical components that work as mediators in the responses of our body to stimuli and trigger a wide variety of reactions.
Within this big family is the serotonin, also called “happiness hormone” because of the many functions that plays there is also the regulation of mood.
How can we increase the levels of serotonin in our body? Is it possible to introduce it through food? In summary: is there a food that makes us happy? The answer may be subjective for each of us, but fortunately we have objective parameters on which we can base ourselves: in fact, serotonin is produced by our body starting from a precursor present in food, tryptophan.
What are the characteristics of foods that influence mood
To increase serotonin levels and in essence, to improve our mood, we can pay particular attention to the introduction of those foods that contain high amounts of tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids that are not produced by our body.
Be careful though, not all foods high in tryptophan automatically produce serotonin: to be synthesized, carbohydrates, iron and B vitamins are required.
When we eat foods with these characteristics, the mechanism of action can be summarized as follows: the increase in blood sugar causes the production of insulin, which favors the penetration of nutrients into the cells, with the exception of tryptophan, which remains in circulation in the blood and is easily assimilated in the central nervous system, where it is then transformed into serotonin.
It is no coincidence that sweet foods are also called “ comfort food ” and are what we look for when we feel down in the dumps or worried about something.
Which foods affect the production of neurotransmitters by affecting our mood
In order not to be victims of the vicious circle of glycemic spikes given by the ingestion of simple sugars and to avoid the risk of gaining weight and developing metabolic diseases , the ideal is to eat foods rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates, so that sugars are released gradually.
So it is good to include whole grains, legumes and fruit in our diet, and include them in our main dish together with other foods with high contents of tryptophan as protein sources of animal origin (milk and derivatives, eggs, fish, lean meats), nuts and seeds.
An essential positive impact on tryptophan metabolism is also given by antioxidants, compounds in which all plant products are very rich, to be included in abundance and in every meal in our food routine.
List of foods
What are the foods that belong to these categories and that have all the right characteristics? A few examples:
- oats, rye flour
- banana, date
- salmon, mackerel
- chicken, turkey
- milk, yogurt, parmesan
- nuts, sesame seeds
- dark chocolate
- spinach, beetroot, cabbage, broccoli
- turmeric, spirulina algae
It is possible that many of these foods are already present in our dishes, but we must remember that they must be included in a balanced diet and accompanied by healthy habits to be able to give us real benefits.
Our mood in fact does not depend only on how we eat: the practice of physical activity must be included regularly in our days, in order to create a habit that in addition to positively influencing our state general physique, favors the production of serotonin.
Adequate emotional management is also essential to facilitate brain chemistry and achieve overall well-being which will eventually lead us to live a life to the full: it is useless to rely only on what we introduce by eating under the illusion that is the solution to all our problems, if we do not work on changing our mental patterns and the perspective with which we face our life.
Learn to manage your mood through nutrition, discovering what to eat, what to avoid and why with the “Potential Nutrition” course it is right for you.