Fun Fact: Food Can Actually Affect Your Mood & Vitality

  • 6 mins read
  • Wellbeing
  • Relationships
  • Dr. Jatin Bhide

Food is never just food. For most, it is much more than that, both physically as well as emotionally. In fact, food has the capacity to do a complete 360-degree on the way you feel. Feeling down? Just grab your favourite food and voila, you immediately feel a sense of comfort. Food might not be the answer to all your problems, but it can definitely go a long way in changing the way you feel on a given day. Here is more on how foods can actually can affect your mood and vitality and help in stress reduction.

How food affects the mood and mind

Eating food makes us feel satiated, relaxed, and pleasant. This is a result of the happy hormone serotonin! Of all the serotonin produced in our body, about 95 per cent of it is produced in our gut. The gut is packed with a hundred million neurons that send signals to the brain. Studies have shown that poor eating habits (more calories, saturated fats, high sodium content) lead to negative mood and irritability after 48 hours. No wonder our digestive health has a huge influence on our mood and well-being. Some foods that can increase serotonin levels in the body are eggs, cheese, nuts, seeds and fruits like pineapples. Exercising and getting adequate sunlight can also boost serotonin levels in our body. So, don’t hesitate to employ the ‘Good Food for Good Mood’ mantra in your life too!

Foods for the mind, body, and soul

Since what we eat can affect the way we feel, we need to focus on eating the right foods for a calm and pleasant mind. Remember, good food that maintains good mood and energy are crucial for our overall wellbeing.

Here are some foods that can make us and our partners feel more content and calm.

1. Omega-3 fatty acids: Studies conducted in patients suffering from depression showed a significant improvement in their mood upon the prescription of Omega-3 fatty acids. Fresh fish, seeds such as sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, dry fruits such as walnuts, and oils like soya bean oil, canola oil are all foods rich in Omega 3.

2. Vitamin B: There are eight B vitamins namely B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid) and B12 (cobalamin). These Bs play an important role in several body functions including producing brain chemicals that affect our mood. Vitamin B also plays a vital role in cell metabolism and energy production. If you have a vitamin B 12 deficiency, it is advised to consult your doctor and get your homocysteine levels checked and take supplements for the same. Vitamin B can be naturally obtained from fish, lean meat, poultry, liver and kidney, milk, cheese, green leafy vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts, etc.

3. Amino acids: Tryptophan is an amino acid that can be derived from turkey, chicken, milk, oats, soya, nuts, and seeds. This tryptophan gets converted to serotonin. Serotonin is the happy hormone that influences our mood positively and calms our nerves, thus holding onto these amino acids is a must!

4. Greens and beans: Green leafy vegetables and leguminous beans are high in fibre and nutrients. These foods promote the growth of good bacteria in our gut, add bulk to the stools and boost digestive health. The gut-brain axis plays a vital role in our mood, including these foods in our diet will bring balance to our gut and calm to our minds.

Now, the foods we just mentioned can nourish and energize our bodies. At the same time, they can also enhance our health and well-being. But what about our mood and vitality? The answer lies in aphrodisiac foods. Aphrodisiacs are foods that have the potential to positively influence our mood and boost our vigour. Read on to find out more!

Modern day potions for love and vitality

We live in stressful times of deadlines and commitments with almost little or no personal time left to spend with our partners and loved ones. But by knowing about foods that produce serotonin, the little time that we get with our better halves can be made special with foods equivalent to modern-day love potions called aphrodisiac foods. An aphrodisiac is any food, drink, or substance that is known to enhance sexual desire, attraction, pleasure, or behaviour. There are tonnes of medicines in the market that claim to boost the libido but most individuals are more inclined towards natural alternatives known to have lesser side effects. Most of these claims don’t have strong research to back them up but there are known aphrodisiacs that can help you and your partner. For instance, foods such as cocoa, saffron, fenugreek can significantly improve erectile dysfunction. Let us take a look at more such foods that are known for their libido, vitality and energy-boosting properties.

1. Ginseng

Ginseng is the root of the plant Panax Ginseng. It comes with chemical constituents ginseng saponins, ginseng oils, and phytosterols that have been used for centuries to improve vitality and libido. Being an adaptogen, Ginseng helps improve the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, which in turn helps in increasing endurance. Red ginseng has been proven to aid in erectile dysfunction(ED) in men and also help in arousal in women. This plant-based food improves the strength of erections and is easily available in the form of capsules, powders, and tablets. While most people don’t complain of any kind of side effects, it is always best to consult your doctor before starting on any supplements, particularly in the case of pre-existing conditions.

2. Maca

Maca is a sweet root of the plant Lepidium meyenii, native to South America. Maca has been researched and proven to increase sperm count in male rats, and reduce ED in male rats. Maca is usually available as a vegetable or a supplement powder. Sometimes, it is also available in the form of capsules. Maca has also been shown to lower anxiety and depression making it important in healthcare and wellness.

3. Pistachio nuts

Who doesn’t love pistachio? Besides their delicious nutty taste, pistachio nuts have nutritional value and are rich in protein, fibre, and healthy fats. They may also help reduce symptoms of erectile dysfunction. In one small study, males who consumed pistachio nuts per day for 3 weeks experienced increased blood flow to the penis and firmer erections. This could be because pistachios can improve blood cholesterol and stimulate better blood flow throughout the body.

Busting myths about some foods commonly referred to as aphrodisiacs

While some foods are backed by research when it comes to improving vitality and libido, some common food items have garnered a lot of attention as aphrodisiacs. However, these claims have little or no scientific basis. Let’s have a look at these faux-aphrodisiacs.

Food and Vitality

Certain foods like lean meat, poultry, fish, fresh vegetables and fruits, seeds, nuts, milk, and its products are often considered to increase vigour. Foods containing zinc such as meat, seafood, nuts and legumes are known to increase testosterone levels and increase fertility in men. The components of a balanced diet will show growth and strength in all normal individuals. Maintaining a balanced diet and exercising regularly can improve strength, vitality, and well-being in individuals.

Reducing stress can help us deal with our wellbeing more efficiently. Maintaining a balanced diet and exercising can do wonders for our bodies and keep the happy hormones flowing. Spending more time with our loved ones and trying out new foods together can prove to be fruitful for both in keeping with the popular adage that the Way to your heart is through the stomach!

References:

1. Which comes first in food–mood relationships, foods or moods? At https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S019566631100643X

2. Maca reduces blood pressure and depression, in a pilot study in postmenopausal women at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24931003/

3. Depression at https://foodforthebrain.org/condition/depression/

4. Antifatigue effects of Panax ginseng CA Meyer: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23613825

5. Red ginseng for treating erectile dysfunction: a systematic review at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2561113/

6. 7 Aphrodisiac Foods That Boost Your Libido at https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/aphrodisiac-foods#Well-known-aphrodisiac-foods-that-are-not-backed-by-strong-scientific-evidence

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