2020 was one of the most challenging years for everyone around the world. With the COVID-19 pandemic, people’s routines and plans were upended, and they did the best they could. No doubt, the year has been stressful. A person could try and maintain an air of positivity, but there is no way to deny that 2020 was a challenging year like no other.
Food, on the other hand, is a quick fix to attaining the good feelings one desires. After all, certain foods fuel the body to increase its production and release of serotonin and dopamine. Simple carbohydrates and sugary foods can provide the energy the body needs, but it often comes with a crash later on.
This is not the way to improve your mood long-term and can endanger your health as well.
Mounting scientific research shows that the foods people eat can positively or negatively impact mental health. Food plays a significant role on the body – mentally and physically. It can affect the health of the brain and gut, alter the sugar balance, etc. Many people will use food as an emotional crutch.
If you desire to feel better mentally (and physically), you want to consume foods that positively affect the body. What foods should you add to your diet?
Protein, found in meat, beans, eggs and lentils, has a plethora of B vitamins, helping lower depression risks. Amino acids (glycine and taurine) can help improve the nervous system and promote a healthy sleep cycle.
This vitamin is critical in the regulation of stress hormones and balancing the body’s stress response. Since the body doesn’t naturally produce vitamin C, people must get their daily vitamin C intake through their foods or supplements.
According to research, stress lessens the amount of zinc in the body. This can lead to inflammation and sickness, such as depression. Good sources of zinc include meat, shellfish and seeds such as flax, hemp and pumpkin.
This amino acid works to alleviate stress and anxiety without any side effects. It occurs naturally and has been found in tea leaves.
There are more than 300 chemical reactions happening in the body, which includes boosting the GABA neurotransmitter. GABA’s role is to manage anxiety and stress. When the body doesn’t have enough magnesium, stress levels increase, and there is an increased risk for depression.
The digestive system generates more than 90 percent of serotonin, and the gut plays a role in how you feel physically and mentally. If you consume fermented foods, you replenish the good bacteria in the gut to stave off adverse effects. Consume fiber-rich, fermented foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains.
Your brain needs fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6, to function properly. These fats are found in avocados, eggs, nuts, oily fish, poultry and seeds.
What Foods To Avoid When You Are Stressed
When you are stressed out, the last thing you need to do is turn to high sugar foods and alcohol. These foods do not help in replenishing the important nutrients the body needs to function healthily. Yes, you may feel good for a time, but it won’t last. They can actually do more harm than good.
If you are stressed out, stick to a well-balanced diet and exercise. This will boost the “feel-good” feelings you want and help you overcome the stressors you face.
Remember, your diet should consist of whole foods, fruit, leafy greens, fiber, good fats, nuts/seeds and fermented foods. All of this can help improve your mood and replace any nutrients lost during stressful times.
Vitamin D and proper water consumption are also necessary for improving both your mood and cognitive performance.