Go Ahead, Eat Your Feelings
Irritable, tired, confused? You may be afflicted with the condition known as it's-not-quite-spring blues. While the only known cure is sunshine, there are things to do to make the next few weeks a little more bearable.
One easy way to change your mood is to eat. No, we’re not talking about spending quality time with a pint of rocky road. Instead, turn to foods rich in the kind of nutrients that can help put you back on the happy track.
- Feel less anxious: Choline
Related to B vitamins, choline is key to regulating anxiety, mood, and memory. Studies suggest that it can protect you from cognitive decline and dementia. Get your fix from eggs, beef, seafood, and Brussels sprouts.
- Think more clearly: Folate (Vitamin B9)
The natural form of folic acid is necessary for the production of major neurotransmitters including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, which regulate your mood, your sense of pleasure, and mental clarity. Low levels of folate are a risk factor for depression. Give your brain a boost with leafy greens, avocado, and citrus.
- Experience more pleasure: Iron
This element transports oxygen to every cell in your body. And like folate, it’s also a key ingredient in producing the neurotransmitters responsible for pleasure and focus—dopamine and serotonin. Iron deficiency can lead to moodiness, fatigue, apathy, and depression. Animal protein contains more iron in a form called heme that allows bodies to absorb it better than they do the iron from plants. Adding an acid such as lemon juice to iron-rich plant foods like spinach increases iron absorption two to six time. Pump up your iron intake with beef, lentils, and dark meat poultry.
- Be less irritable: Magnesium
Photosynthesis, that magical process that plants use to turn sunlight into sugar, begins with magnesium. In your diet, it can change your mood from stressed out to relaxed. This key element is directly related to brain growth and is known to ease irritability, confusion, and fatigue. Next time you’re feeling edgy, reach for magnesium-rich foods rich like salmon, pumpkin seeds, and cheese.
- Improve your memory: Omega-3s
Your brain loves omega-3s. Low levels of these fatty acids are linked to depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease. The best sources are found in fatty fish like sardines and salmon, seeds like chia and flax, and brassicas like kale and cauliflower.
Illustration by Rob Levin