I’m happy to introduce another guest author, Andrew, today on a new subject here on LearnThis.ca, eating well and foods that affect your mood.  I personally eat a good balanced diet and drink massive amounts of water, but many of these I’ve not researched or read directly.  I hope you learn some new ways to impact your mood and improve your diet from the article.  Please add your experienced and comments below!

You’ve heard it before: you are what you eat. Pop culture spends a lot of time talking about the “science” of mood and food. Some of it’s legit, and some of it’s bogus. So, can you use food to regulate your mood?  The answer is a bit more nuanced than you might hope. Of course, food cannot necessarily make us happy if we are going through a rough time in our lives, but alongside with exercise, talking to your loved ones about your problems, a wise choice of food can be a powerful ally.

Popular Claims about Food and Mood

Omega 3 Fatty Acids Can Lift Your Mood

According to the book, The Omega-3 Connection with dental plans, by Andrew L. Stoll – it is sometimes true.  It really depends whether or not you’re dealing with depression. The evidence that these foods can help people who suffer from a mood disorder is quite strong. In fact, various studies have shown that it is just as effective as prescription medications in lifting the mood of depressed patients. The evidence is so compelling that the American Psychiatry Association and ultrasound tech online recommends people who suffer from depression should take a supplement.  If it works that well for depressed patients, imagine how happy a normal person will be! Well…not quite. There’s no compelling evidence that omega 3 fatty acids are helpful for people that are just going through a rough patch or that “normal people” are just looking for a way to boost their mood.  That said, omega 3 fatty acids are good for your health in other ways, and there’s certainly no harm in consuming them. Even if you aren’t currently depressed, they could ward off the risks of depression occurring at some point in the future.  Omega 3 fatty acids are found in salmon, herring, sardines, and tuna. Six ounces a week of fish is the recommended dose, or you can use a supplement with DHA and EPA.

Avoid foods that contain omega 6 fatty acids, which can actually make you feel worse because they block the omega 3s. These include any of the hydrogenated fats found in processed food, as well as most vegetable oils except for olive oil. Saturated fats, like butter, don’t seem to affect mood, although too much isn’t great for your health. Alcohol can also block omega 3s.

Sugar Will Make Your Kids Bounce off the Walls: False

Believe it or not, this one’s just not true. Children do get hyper on their birthdays and Halloween parties, but various studies have shown that this doesn’t have anything to do with the sugar that they’re consuming. In controlled experiments, where one group received artificial sweeteners and the others real sugar, children behaved the same.  According to the reputable websites WebMD.com and the US National Library of Medicine, the sugar – hyperactivity relation is just correlation, with another substance often found in children’s food – artificial coloring – being responsible for ADHD and other hyperactivity problems.

Grumpy? Drink More Water: True

When you become dehydrated, this leads to fatigue. Fatigue, in turn, has all kinds of affects on your body and mind. Irritability is one of the strongest signs of fatigue.  It turns out that you don’t have to be dying of thirst for this to be true. Even moderate levels of dehydration can make you grumpy. It certainly doesn’t help that it can rob you of your energy and give you a headache.  Most people should drink at least two liters of water a day in order to avoid these problems. People who live somewhere hot or who exercise regularly should drink quite a bit more than that even.  Despite what some people say, however, it doesn’t much matter whether or not what you’re drinking is actually water. Almost any liquid will do the trick. Surprisingly, this even includes caffeinated beverages. On the other hand, alcohol doesn’t count, and it can actually dehydrate you.

Losing Focus and Energy? Have a Cup of Coffee: True

A quick search for coffee on Google Scholar shows a large number of studies about the effects of coffee. Most of them demonstrate that coffee (or better to say caffeine) really does give you energy and help you stay focused. It has been shown to elevate your attention level as well as your overall mood.  While there is some truth to the idea that coffee can become a dependence, the only threat it poses is to your wallet. People stop drinking coffee when they start feeling jittery, so they don’t consume the high levels necessary to harm your health.  One potential health threat is if caffeine starts becoming a replacement for a good night’s sleep.

Carbohydrates Will Boost Your Mood: That depends

Carbohydrates will boost your mood, but generally only if you aren’t eating right already.  It is true that carbohydrates cause a boost in serotonin, and serotonin is a chemical that helps you regulate your mood. It’s not illogical to think that this would mean carbs could boost your mood, but it’s wrong, despite the fact that this claim is still wildly popular.  The problem is that if you consume any protein at all, the effects of the carbohydrates will be neutralized. In other words, if you go an entire day without consuming any protein, you might be able to get a short-term mood boost. Unfortunately, this is a terrible way to eat and the long term impacts on your health, and yes, your mood, will be bad news.   In a stroke of irony, according to the June issue of “Health” from 2011, new evidence is starting to suggest that protein actually has a more powerful impact on your mood than carbohydrates, although these studies are still in their beginning stages.

Takeaways for Eating Well to Improve Your Mood?

A healthy diet can do a lot for your mood, and these are examples of certain foods that can have a direct impact on the way you feel, but there is no single magical food that can make you feel happy. Focus on getting enough protein and omega 3s in your diet, and be sure to drink plenty of fluids.

Andrej is a stay-at-home man who takes care of the family’s eating habits – making sure breakfast is never skipped! Working as a content manager for a Long Island elevator company. You can contact him via Twitter or LinkedIn .

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