We’ve all heard the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, but can an apple a day keep depression away? Can the food you eat actually affect your mental health? With university mental health day coming up, I wanted to explore whether changes to your diet can affect your mood.
The simple answer is, yes; the food you eat can affect your mood. Your food intake affects the structure and function of your brain, which controls your mood. Your brain is just like a car; an expensive car only functions well if it’s filled with good quality fuel. Likewise, your brain can only function well if you fuel it with good quality food that contains lots of vitamins and minerals (e.g. kale, mushroom and broccoli).
But when you have the blues, you’re most likely not reaching for a bunch of kale, but instead a luxurious piece of chocolate. But milk chocolate doesn’t contain many vitamins or minerals, yet it still makes you feel good. This is because eating chocolate increases the level of serotonin (chemicals that make you feel happy) in the brain. 90% of your serotonin receptors are located in the gut, so the food you eat really does affect your mood.
Chocolate is also a natural antidepressant and makes you feel more relaxed. But you need to fight the urge to eat a whole box of Lindt in one sitting (almost impossible, I know), because although chocolate can make you feel good in the short term, the long term health risks of obesity and acne are sure to put you in a bad mood later on in life.
Also, there have been various studies showing that depressed people eat more chocolate. In a study of 931 people, participants with some signs of depression ate on average 3 more servings of chocolate per month than those with no signs of depression. However, scientists those suffering from depression eat more chocolate simply because they crave it or whether eating chocolate contributes to a depressed mood.
in order to avoid the spots and the unhappiness, eat chocolate in small quantities and if possible, switch to dark chocolate as it has more cocoa, and thus more minerals and fibre
Either way, in order to avoid the spots and the unhappiness, eat chocolate in small quantities and if possible, switch to dark chocolate as it has more cocoa, and thus more minerals and fibre. Although it’s arguably not as tasty as milk chocolate, it is proven to help improve your brain function and every little bit of help is needed for those summer exams!
It can be quite confusing knowing what food will put you in a better mood but will also be good for your health, so I’ve compiled a list that contains both tasty and healthy food (you can thank me later!)
Bananas – they’re not only a sweet tasty fruit, but they contain potassium and vitamin B6 which provide you with energy and improve your brain function. So, it’s the perfect ingredient to have in a breakfast smoothie to kickstart your day.
Citrus – Oranges, lemons and grapefruit all contain folate which is an instant mood booster. If you’re in the mood for a tangy treat, ditch the sour patch kids and have some oranges instead!
Avocado – If you’re not in a sweet mood, avocado is the perfect fruit to boost your mood. It has a combination of B vitamins and potassium which not only makes you feel better but also lowers your blood pressure. So, start your day off right with some avocado toast!
a good diet cannot instantly cure depression or anxiety, but it can help as part of an overall treatment plan
Now you know how food affects your mood, it’s the perfect time to fix your diet so it’ll make you happier! But it’s important to remember that a good diet cannot instantly cure depression or anxiety, but it can help as part of an overall treatment plan.
Featured image courtesy of dierk schaefer via Flickr. Image license found here. Article image 1 courtesy of liz west via Flickr. Image license found here. Article image 2 courtesy of www.bluewaikiki.com via Flickr. Image license found here.