You are what you eat

No energy?  Could you use some positive mental health?  Do you crave sugar or salt?  Scientists are proving that what’s in the food you eat can effect the chemical composition of your brain. Food has the power to alter the production or release of neurotransmitters and affect your mood, energy, and everyday diet.  For example, high levels of serotonin boosts mood, curbs food cravings, increases pain tolerance, and helps you sleep while low levels can cause insomnia, depression, food cravings, aggressive behavior, and poor body temperature regulation.  To get high levels of serotonin, eat foods high in Vitamin B6 like whole grains, potatoes, bananas, Omega 3s like salmon, walnuts, fish oil.  High levels of dopamine and norepinephrine improves mood, alertness, ability to cope with stress, and mental functioning while low levels can cause depression, irritability, and moodiness.  To increase levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, eat foods that contain tyrosine like almonds, avocados, bananas, dairy products, lima beans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and eat antioxidant containing foods like colorful fruits and veggies.  High levels of acetylcholine can help with memory and mental functioning while low levels is associated with aging, memory loss, and reduced thinking ability.  To increase levels of acetylcholine, eat foods high in choline like wheat germ, eggs, beef, cauliflower, navy beans, tofu, almonds, and peanut butter.  And of course, just eating a healthier diet will help your mood and energy.  Here are some tips you probably know but may not be incorporating in your everyday eating plan.

  • Avoid high fat, high salt, and high sugar foods
  • Don’t eat large portions at one time
  • Avoid a lot of processed and packaged foods
  • Don’t skip meals
  • Avoid too much caffeine (no more than 300mg/d suggested- 1 cup of coffee is about 100mg)
  • Alcohol in moderation (1 drink for women and 2 drinks for men)
  • Eat a wide variety of foods
  • Eat as many fresh foods as you can
  • Eat a lot of fruits and veggies
  • Eat whole grains and legumes
  • Eat small frequent meals and snacks
  • Balance carbohydrates, protein, and fat at each meal and snack
  • Eat a diet high in antioxidants
  • Increase Omega-3 Fatty Acid intake
  • Eat more plant based foods
  • Make sure you are not deficient in any vitamins or minerals; supplement if needed

Assorted healthy food.
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