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Steve Theunissen is a freelance writer living in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is a former gym owner and personal trainer and is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness and fat loss. Steve also writes history books with a focus on the history of warfare. He is married and has two daughters.

How Food Affects Your Mood and Stress Levels

Your food and your mood are directly related to one another. Yet, the vast majority of people are oblivious to this vital connection. They become obsessed with treating the symptoms of negative moods and miss out on the underlying causes. Often that cause is tied up with what you are outing down your throat.

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In this article we will examine the relationship between food and mood. In the process we will discover the dietary changes that you can make to dramatically improve your mood and reduce your stress levels.

Nutrient Deficiency

Degradation of soil over the last fifty years has dramatically impacted the nutrient content of foods. In fact, it would take six apples for you to get the same nutritional value of just one apple fifty years ago.

On the African continent, the soil is nowhere as depleted as it is in America. As a result, their fruits and vegetables are more nutrient dense. The result is that people who live over there generally have better teeth and bone structure.

Potassium to Calm the Nerves

One of the most important minerals for the body is potassium. It acts as a physiological tranquilizer, in effect calming the nervous system down.

Bananas are well known for containing potassium. A single banana will provide 400 milligrams of potassium. However, we need 4700 milligrams of potassium per day just to meet our minimum daily requirement. That equates to 7-10 servings of vegetables per day.

You need potassium for two key reasons:

  • To calm down your heart rate
  • To maintain stable blood sugar levels

B Vitamins for Mood Regulation

The B Vitamins are also very important for mood regulation. When you are feeling stressed, you quickly use up the B vitamins. This causes you to become more anxious and nervous.

The most important B vitamin, and the one that gets exhausted first when you are stressed, is Vitamin B1. The best source of Vitamin B replacement is nutritional yeast. This can be picked up from your local health food store. Add a teaspoon to your yogurt or protein shake every day. It will help to calm you down as well as assisting you to get a good night’s sleep.

Calcium for Stress

Calcium is another key mineral for mood regulation. It helps to calm down and relax when you are in a stressed state. Stress causes calcium to pass right through the body without getting adequately absorbed.

If you decide to supplement with a calcium product, do not use one that is derived from calcium carbonate. Instead go for a supplement that is derived from calcium citrate, cheese or plain yogurt.

Iodine for Mood Elevation

Iodine is one important mineral for mood elevation. Idoline supports the thyroid, which assists with the cognitive functioning of the brain. The best source of iodine is from sea kelp.

Regulating Blood Sugar

The amount of sugar in your blood has a direct effect on your mood. If your blood sugar level is too high, you are going to experience brain fog, typified by memory loss and impaired cognition. When the level is too low, you will become moody and irritable.

The biggest influencer on blood sugar levels is your consumption of simple carbohydrates. By switching around some of your basic eating habits, you can make huge improvements on your blood sugar stability and, as a result, your mood.

Most people have been eating a carb-based breakfast their whole lives. It is either built around cereal or toast. This surges sugar into your body first thing in the morning, causing your blood sugar level to go up and resulting in a less than optimal cognitive functioning.

The body’s response to this high level of blood sugar is to release more insulin from the pancreas in order to clear the blood out. This leads to an overcompensation and suddenly you have not enough sugar in the blood. Now you become moody and, around mid-morning hungry for more carbs to get your blood sugar levels back up. When you do the whole vicious cycle repeats itself.

Simply by switching from a carb-based to a protein-based breakfast, you avoid all of these problems. Make eggs a staple of your breakfast menu and you’ll be taking in close to 20 grams of high grade protein to support lean muscle growth throughout the day (an average egg contains about 6 grams of protein. And you needn’t worry about the cholesterol in the yolks. Scientists have recently shown that there are no issues with eating 3-4 eggs per day.

You should also consider having a whey-based protein shake as a breakfast alternative. Look for a low carb protein mix that contains whey isolate protein, as it will digest faster than other forms.

A protein-based breakfast will help to stabilize your blood sugar levels right throughout the remainder of the day.

Avoiding sugar is the most important thing you can do to improve your mood.

Here’s a plan you should check:

Hormones and Your Mood

Hormones have a huge influence on your brain, and therefore your mood. Serotonin is a pleasure hormone that makes you feel good. It acts as a neurotransmitter that sends messages to your brain and You can build up your serotonin levels through your diet. To do so, you can increase your consumption of foods that contain tryptophan, the amino acid which is the building block of serotonin.

The following ten foods are all high in tryptophan:

  • Free range turkey
  • Flaxseed
  • Buckwheat
  • Wild fish
  • Whey protein
  • Bananas
  • Eggs
  • Sour cherries
  • Free range beef
  • Dark chocolate

Cortisol is the stress hormone. It leads to anxiety and constant worry, where your mind is going at a hundred miles an hour thinking about negative things. Exercise and maintaining a clean diet that is free of junk food and simple carbs are two of the best strategies for keeping your cortisol levels down.

The following foods will help you to control your cortisol levels:

  • Cold water fish
  • Walnuts
  • Swiss Chard
  • Eggs
  • Dark chocolate
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Citrus Fruit
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Spinach

Food and beverages to avoid if you want to control cortisol . . .

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Low fiber carbohydrates
  • Flavored yogurt
  • Fruit juice
  • Trans fats

The Bottom Line

Throughout this article, we have presented you with a large number of suggestions to modify your diet in order to improve your mood. You will have noticed, however, some common threads, which can be summarized as the following:

  • Start your day with a quality protein
  • Eliminate processed carbs
  • Eat more lean proteins throughout the day in the form of wild fish, eggs, turkey and cheese.
  • Supplement with B Vitamins, Omega 3 Fish Oil, potassium and Calcium
  • Take iodine in the form odd sea kelp

Look to your diet to help improve your diet before you consider the artificial symptom blockers of medical prescriptions. You will be amazed at how making the five changes recommended here can impact on your sense of happiness, well-being and overall vibrancy!

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