How food can make you happier.
The nights are getting longer, the days colder and memories of the summer sun are slowly fading away. We often feel down during the winter months which is entirely normal and explainable que Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) at the extremities and a touch of the winter blues for the norm. According to research for weather to increase mood you need to spend at least 30 minutes outside in warm sunny weather, for those of you, like me, who are stuck in a cold country for the winter there are other ways of increasing your mood.
Apart from sex, exercise, good music, friends and some drugs (sugar, alcohol, tobacco and caffeine are all drugs by the way) you may be thinking how else can I beat the winter blues? Well my dear friends the answer is on your plate. That’s right, one sure way of increasing your mood during these dark times is to eat good mood enhancing foods. Our target chemical is serotonin as this is one of the chemicals in the brain that is negatively affected by lack of sunshine. How food increases serotonin in our brains…
So there are many foods that contain serotonin, however, simply eating these foods will not increase the levels of serotonin in your brain as serotonin cannot pass the blood brain barrier. To effectively increase serotonin levels in your brain you have to help your brain produce serotonin, the best way of doing this is through the consumption of tryptophan which is an amino acid that is used by the brain in the production of serotonin. Carbohydrates are full of tryptophan, which really helps explain why we tend to eat carb rich foods when we are feeling down this theory has been evidenced in rats, eating more carbs increases serotonin levels. But we must remember not to over eat carbohydrates and perhaps give ourselves one carb rich meal every so often. Vitamins also have a significant effect on serotonin levels. Thiamine and folic acid have both also been found to increase serotonin levels.
For a serotonin boosting meal we need three components- food rich in tryptophan, thiamine and folic acid.
A simple google search brought up a list of the top 10 high tryptophan foods. The list goes highest first
pumpkin and squash seeds
lamb, beef, pork and game
chicken and turkey
dark leafy greens (kale spinach etc.)
So after taking into account all of what I found out today I made a serotonin boosting meal containing folic acid, thiamine and tryptophan. The meal consisted of pork, broccoli, camembert stuffed mushrooms and some extra vegetables for added colour and flavour.