Although Hippocrates once said, "Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food," it was once believed that food had no effect on the brain or wellbeing. But caffeine, alcohol, carbohydrates, and fats all directly affect how you feel.
There's a reason soups and stews can make us feel satisfied during the winter months, or eating watermelon on a hot summer day can make us feel refreshed. All of these foods release certain brain chemicals that create feelings of happiness and excitement.
Here are some of those foods that release "happy" brain chemicals. Incorporate these foods into your day to help improve your mood and feel energized.
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These long, green stems are excellent plant sources of tryptophan that increase serotonin levels.
Serotonin regulates brain functions such as mood, appetite, sleep, and memory. Low serotonin levels can cause anxiety, depression, or mood swings. So if you are "not feeling like yourself" grill, steam or fry some asparagus with your next meal.
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fruits and vegetables
Both are loaded with B vitamins, which are responsible for mood and increased energy.
There are a variety of B vitamins: B2 is found in spinach and mushrooms, B3 in avocados, B6 in bananas, and B9 in broccoli, to name a few. Antioxidants keep cells healthy and ward off disease. A healthy body is a happy body.
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Omega-3 fatty acids
Salmon, sardines, tuna and shrimp contain omega-3 fatty acids. Our bodies do not make omega-3s on their own, so it is important that we get them from food.
They help increase serotonin levels – the happy brain chemical. Dopamine levels also increase with omega-3 fatty acids. The brain releases dopamine during times of arousal or pleasure (such as after an orgasm).
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Medium chain triglycerides (MCT oils) are a high quality energy source that is used immediately instead of being stored as fat.
The natural scent of coconut oil has been shown to ease the "fight or flight" response in stressful situations. This scent can either come from a coconut-based moisturizer or from the oil you're cooking with.
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Green tea or coffee
It's no surprise that caffeine increases alertness. If you're feeling sluggish or unmotivated to hit the gym, have some green tea, which has many health benefits due to its antioxidants, or a cup of black coffee that will give you a boost. It will add a little zipper to your crotch.
Be careful not to overdo the caffeine as it can also have a "cracking" side effect. It is best to enjoy your drink with a meal to avoid feeling disappointed. The extra calories will keep you going after the caffeine rush subsides.
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sh a square of at least 70% cocoa chocolate for a boost of happiness. Dark chocolate is a great source of tryptophan – which aids in serotonin production and feelings of elation and excitement.
It also increases blood flow to the brain, resulting in alertness, improved reaction time, and problem solving. It has even been shown to improve short-term memory. So enjoy a square of dark chocolate when the craving arises.
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Carbohydrates increase mood and well-being in the cold winter months. Enjoy toast and jam with tea or coffee as an afternoon snack or with your eggs for breakfast. Alternatively, try a bowl of oats or high-protein pasta.
Benefit from the slow-digesting dishes – sweet potatoes, oats, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta – that will keep you moving for hours.
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Quinoa is not only a complex carbohydrate, but also a complete protein.
This will keep your blood sugar levels in check and help you avoid slumps that can lead to irritability, mood swings, and low energy expenditure. (That feeling of hunger.) It's also gluten-free if you have allergies to other complex carbohydrates.
Quinoa is even better when paired with vegetables to add even more mood-boosting antioxidants and vitamins.