Food and mood are so intertwined that they have inspired a new area of brain study: nutritional psychiatry, which examines the impact of what we eat on how we feel.
As a dietitian and nutritionist who has studied and experienced this connection firsthand, I find it endlessly fascinating that we can empower ourselves to feel partially – or sometimes entirely – better based on our eating habits.
The foods you eat can make or break everything, from your work and productivity to your mental state and physical health. To boost your mood and brain energy levels, put these 35 foods on your grocery list:
1. Pumpkin seeds
5. Rolled oats
Complex carbs contain more nutrients than simple carbs and, due to their higher fiber content, take longer to break down.
They also help stabilize blood sugar, which can stabilize your mood. Fluctuations in blood sugar can cause a rapid change in your mood, leaving you irritable, low on energy and feeling downright dreadful.
10. Lean beef
Protein is necessary for healthy energy levels. It takes longer to digest than carbs, which keeps your blood sugar levels balanced and provides long-lasting energy.
Amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, help repair and rebuild tissue — and your body needs them to make certain neurotransmitters.
18. Brussels sprouts
It has also been shown to help prevent neural tube defects, support cell growth and repair, and regulate sleep patterns, especially as we age.
Folate deficiency has been linked to a number of brain problems, including dementia and depression.
Your body needs vitamin C to maintain and repair all tissues, so it helps wounds and cuts heal. Additionally, your adrenal glands need vitamin C to make stress hormones, including cortisol. The more stressed you are, the more cortisol you produce and the more vitamin C you need.
31. Tart Cherries
Tryptophan, along with nutrients like calcium and vitamin B6, help you produce melatonin, but you can also get this “sleep hormone” from the foods listed above.
Melatonin does not have a sleeping effect. Instead, it puts you in a state that helps you ease your way to sleep. Eating melatonin-rich foods before bed can help you take full advantage of the natural increase in this hormone that occurs in the evening.
Patricia BananMS, RDN, is a registered dietitian, nutritionist, chef and author of “From Exhaustion to Balance: 60+ Healing Recipes and Simple Strategies to Boost Mood, Immunity, Focus, and Sleep.” She has been featured in The Oprah Magazine, Shape, Health, Parenting and Good Housekeeping. Patricia received her Masters in Nutrition from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Follow her on Twitter and instagram.