Managing your mood with food

 Managing your mood with food

In my book, 52 Ways To A Healthy You, I discuss the tremendous impact food has on our moods. What we eat impacts our mood, as well as our levels of alertness. Dr. Eric Braverman, former Chief Clinical Researcher at the Princeton Brain Bio Center, a leading figure in the practice of brain-body health care, believes that proper brain nutrition can have an effect on the quality of our lives. The key to longevity and well being, according to Dr. Braverman, is balancing the brain's four important neurotransmitters, which in turn, can reverse or prevent the debilitating effects of aging, including memory loss, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and Alzheimer's. Scientists are proving that our foods can effect the chemical composition of our brains. Because our thinking and feeling processes are influenced by the presence or absence of certain types of foods, we are all emotional eaters in one way or another.

Managing your mood with food

There are three brain chemicals that influence our thoughts and feelings: dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. Foods that are high in protein provide the brain with significant amounts of the amino acid tyrosine. When we consume high protein foods this tyrosine converts to the chemicals that are associated with alertness--dopamine, norepinephrine. High protein foods increase the levels of all these amino acids and decrease the synthesis of serotonin in the brain. Good sources of protein are meat, chicken, fish, nuts, soy products, eggs and dairy products.

When carbohydrates are eaten without a protein, tryptophan is introduced to the brain and serotonin is produced. This calming brain chemical floods the gates, resulting in a general feeling of relaxation. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has the effect of reducing pain, decreasing appetite and producing a sense of calm. In large amounts, serotonin may also induce sleep. If you partner your carbohydrates with a protein, the amino acids in the protein override the calming chemicals resulting in a state of alertness.

Tips For Managing Your Moods

  1. Proteins keep the calming chemical, serotonin, from doing its relaxing job.
  2. If you have trouble with drowsiness after lunch, eat a meal high in lean protein and complex carbohydrates and low in fat. Also, keep your portions small.
  3. If you feel yourself getting depressed, you may notice that you are also craving sweets. Low levels of serotonin will cause intense food cravings. When this happens the brain is attempting to self-medicate through food. Avoid eating sugar and take a brisk walk instead.
  4. The desire to nap in the middle of the day is due to the body's natural biorhythms. Drink a small amount of caffeine and snack on a low-fat carbohydrate snack.
  5. Avoid eating a high carbohydrate meal while at work, as this will negatively affect your performance. You will be less alert and make more mistakes.

Food can dramatically impact our moods. Use this information to take control of your emotions. For some people, proper diet and exercise may eliminate the need for medical intervention.

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