By Lauren Kolacki
Food has become one of the biggest social, comfort and celebratory goto’s in our country’s lifestyle. We host dinner parties to catch up with old friends, we binge sweets when we are feeling low and we go out to dinner for birthdays, graduations, promotions, etc. There is always an excuse to add food into the mix. What we do not realize is that our food options could be influencing our moods and how we feel. What we ingest affects the neurotransmitters our brain produces. Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals, which tell us how we are feeling. The nutrients we take in are the building blocks for these chemicals and can contribute to our overall mood.
Research has shown that processed foods are linked to depression, aggression, anxiety and other mental illness. We have compiled a list of the foods most linked to a bad mood:
- Agave Nectar because it is high in fructose
- Alcohol produces hormones that increase feelings of stress and anxiety and reduces serotonin
- Artificial Sugars give consumers an initial high but are immediately followed by a crash; artificial sugars increase feelings of anxiety, irritability and depression
- Deli meats are packed with preservatives, colorings and additives that can mood swings
- Soda, High Sugar Juices and Cocktail Mixers contain simple sugars that are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, which causes a rapid rise in energy and then a crash, which affects blood sugar control, energy levels, and mood
- The white grains in bagels spike blood sugar. When you eventually crash this can affect your focus, alertness, energy
- Too much coffee can increase anxiety
- Margarine increases inflammation and has high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids that block out omega-3 fatty acids, which is considered a mood enhancer.
- When looking to enhance your mood, spring for a dense carbohydrate like whole grain or foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon or avocado. These food items help increase the amount of serotonin released, which contributes to your good mood.