Are you feeling tired and depressed? Does eating a bar of chocolate or a handful of nuts make you happy? Often remove unconsciously we depend on certain foods to reduce our stress and boredom. These foods can be loosely termed as ‘feel good foods’.
How ‘feel good foods’ work
According to studies, these ‘feel good foods’ increases the serotonin level in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, which aids communication between different parts of the brain. Low level of serotonin is responsible for depression, stress, boredom and insomnia. Feel good foods also boost our mood by helping the brain to absorb tryptophan. Tryptophan is type of amino acid required to manufacture serotonin. Our body receives different types of amino acids from food. Tryptophan is one of these amino acids. Amino acids need a carrier molecule to transport them to the different parts of the body, including the brain. In the process, a tough competition ensues between the different molecules, fighting with each other to reach the brain. According to a study, carbohydrate rich foods help the tryptophan to reach the brain.
When we eat carbohydrates, insulin is secreted in our blood stream. Insulin removes the amino acids, except tryptophan, from our blood. Tryptophan will now face no more obstruction from other amino acids, and will easily reach the brain. Consequently, it will help to secrete serotonin in the brain, making us feel happy. Foods rich in certain minerals, such as magnesium can also reduce stress.
Feel good foods to eat
Carbohydrate rich products act as feel good or comfort foods. However, chocolates, cookies or pastries are not healthy food. They will only add to our weight. Therefore, instead of eating refined carbohydrate foods or junk foods, we can take whole grain food products to cure our stress. Another alternative to carbohydrate rich comfort foods is certain fruits, which are noted to reduce stress. Fruits such as blackberries and blueberries are capable of reducing stress. They are also sources of essential nutrients. Nuts and beans including almond and soybeans also act as healthy stress busters.
Spinach is rich in magnesium, which is beneficial for our mental health. Omega-3 fatty acids, which prevent over secretion of adrenaline during stressful situations, can help to lift your mood. Tuna and sardines are popular sources of omega-3 fatty acid.