Today is all about food. We all know that chocolate can make us happy, but it goes much deeper than that. Good nutrition and healthy eating can have a big impact on your mood and how you feel in general. And then there are certain minerals and nutrients that are directly linked with happiness or depression.
It is interesting to learn how much the food we eat can affect our mood. I think it’s no accident that since the advent of lots of processed food with added sugar in the Western diet, depression and other mood disorders have dramatically risen. We look for ways to increase happiness in a variety of different ways when the simplest solution may be to change what we eat. Let’s look at a couple of key ingredients and nutrients that have been shown to directly affect our mood.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
I’m sure you’ve heard about this fatty acid that’s found in fatty fish and certain seeds and nuts. There’s another fatty acid called Omega 6 and from what I’ve read there’s an important balance between omega 3 and omega 6 that needs to happen. If you end up with way more omega 6 than omega 3 (which is often the case in a diet that consists of lots of processed foods), one of the side effects is depression.
We tend to get the blues more in winter when we can’t get outside and get some sun. A big reason for this drop in mood is a lack of vitamin D. With the advent of strong sunscreen and a global health policy that warns us of sun exposure and cautions us to cover up or wear sunscreen, it’s no wonder that vitamin d deficiency has become major problem that also happens to negatively affect our mood.
Being happy takes energy and a key ingredient in making sure we get the energy we need from our foods are B vitamins. This whole group of micronutrients is crucial in how energized we feel. Make sure you get plenty to feel your best.
Last but not least let’s talk about magnesium. This is starting to become more and more of an issue as our soils are magnesium depleted and less of this mineral makes it into our food. Lack of magnesium can cause insomnia and I don’t have to tell you how important a good night sleep is to your overall well-being.
While you may want to consider supplementing with some of these nutrients to quickly fill the gap your diet is leaving, a much better long-term strategy is to work on cleaning up your diet. The more processed foods you can cut out and replace with fresh fruits and vegetables, quality meats, and healthy fats the better. In other words, eat a healthy diet made up of real foods and you’ll start feeling better.